5 Panthers players who could be surprise cuts this offseason

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Tre Boston
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Tre Boston /
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Carolina Panthers
(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas /

Ian Thomas – Carolina Panthers TE

  • Cap saving: -$760,300

It makes absolutely no sense from a financial standpoint for the Carolina Panthers to release Ian Thomas this offseason. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a strong possibility.

The tight end has failed to step up and fill the void left by Greg Olsen, who ended a long association with the franchise by signing a one-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks in free agency. Thomas was poised to fill the No. 1 spot in his absence. But the former Indiana standout has been almost anonymous for an offense that is loaded with playmakers everywhere you look.

Thomas has just 20 targets on the season, bringing in 13 receptions for 97 receiving yards and one touchdown. Considering how much offensive coordinator Joe Brady used tight ends during his time at LSU,  seeing the 2018 fourth-round pick so out-of-favor is a head-scratcher.

It would be a big shock if the Panthers didn’t address this particular area of the field either in free agency or the 2021 NFL Draft. There will be plenty who’ll want Florida’s Kyle Pitts, who has all the athletic attributes needed to be a transcendent player at the position.

Carolina would lose just over $760,000 if they parted ways with Thomas with one year left on his rookie deal. This might see him stay on but in a far limited role.