Carolina Panthers: 4 questions facing the offense in 2020
Carolina Panthers question No. 4: Is Ian Thomas a No. 1 tight end?
Another big departure from the Carolina Panthers this offseason was Greg Olsen. The prolific tight end enjoyed a standout spell with the organization. And when one considers the best players in franchise history, then the former Chicago Bear is high on the shortlist.
The Panthers’ front office didn’t determine the position to be one of substantial need either in free agency or during the NFL Draft. This puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of Ian Thomas, who is set to become Carolina’s No. 1 option in his third year as a professional.
His first two seasons in Carolina were met with mixed fortunes. Thomas showed enormous promise as a rookie in Olsen’s absence to record 36 receptions, 333 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. This is something he couldn’t follow up in 2019, collecting just 16 balls thrown his way for 136 yards and one score.
Carolina will be hoping this was just a momentary blip that can be rectified with more time on the field. Thomas has a tremendous skill set to work with. And he should get plenty of space to make things happen given the strength of other prominent targets on offense.
There is plenty riding on this season for Thomas, which is the penultimate year of his rookie deal. If he can show the Panthers he has what it takes to fill Olsen’s enormous shoes over the next two years, it should come with a substantial financial reward.