4 Panthers who could outplay their contracts in 2020

(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) Donte Jackson
(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) Donte Jackson /
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Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Ian Thomas /

4. Scouting Report. CAROLINA PANTHERS. 87. Pick Analysis. TE. IANTHOMAS. player

Carolina Panthers Player No. 4: Ian Thomas (TE)

To say Ian Thomas has a big opportunity ahead of him in 2020 would be something of an understatement. The tight end has been hand-picked to fill the vacant starting spot left by Greg Olsen, who chose to finish his career with the Seattle Seahawks and get a more realistic shot of contending for a Super Bowl.

The Carolina Panthers didn’t bring in anyone prolific during free agency or the NFL Draft. And this represents a strong level of faith from the organization that Thomas can produce with more time on the field.

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Thomas showed flashes of brilliance during his rookie campaign when Olsen was forced to miss time through injury. But he failed to build on this last season albeit from a more reduced role.

The former fourth-round pick out of Indiana has all the tools one looks for in a pass-catching tight end. His drops became something of a concern in 2019. And these worries will need to be alleviated next season to give him the best possible chance of securing success.

It is something of a crossroads campaign for Thomas. He has been waiting for a chance like this from the moment he entered the league. However, it won’t take long for the Panthers to look elsewhere next spring if the player fails to make the most of his outstanding skill set.

Should Thomas reach or even exceed what is expected, then it would be a snip financially. The player will make a $750,000 base salary in 2020 that will rise to $950,000 during the final year of his rookie deal. And he will have vastly outplayed this contract if his targets are reached.

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