Carolina Panthers: Examining the curious case of Ian Thomas

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas /

Thomas’ future with the Carolina Panthers

There’s no getting away from it. Ian Thomas’ future with the Carolina Panthers looks bleak.

This was a big chance to make a starting spot his own for the foreseeable future and perhaps even earn a long-term extension in the process. But it already appears as if neither possible scenarios will come to fruition.

Thomas has one year remaining on his rookie deal. But it makes no financial sense whatsoever to release him. The player is set to count $1.1 million against the cap but it will cost the Panthers $1.8 million in dead cap money if they decide to cut their losses.

A reprieve? Maybe.

However, the Panthers won’t make the mistake of not bringing in prominent help again.

Someone like Florida’s Kyle Pitts is a strong contender to be Carolina’s first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, depending on where the team ends up selecting. He is an absolute matchup nightmare who could be the next great tight end at the next level providing his transition is a smooth one.

If the Panthers do decide to keep Thomas on the roster, it will be on a rotational basis. There might be a trade market for a young, athletic player who could benefit from a change of scenery. But Carolina is unlikely to get anything other than a late-round pick in return if there are any takers.

The situation between Thomas and the Panthers is a curious one and he’ll have to finish the campaign strongly to stand any chance of making a difference moving forward.