4 moves that caused the Carolina Panthers’ downfall in 2020
By Dean Jones
Not signing a veteran tight end
The Carolina Panthers made the difficult move to part ways with Greg Olsen in free agency. The prolific Pro Bowler was a huge part of the team’s success during the Cam Newton years and although the decision-makers were well within their right to go younger, it is another situation they might have handled with a little more compassion.
This was the opportunity Ian Thomas had been waiting for. The former fourth-round pick performed well on a rotational basis backing up Olsen in the two seasons prior to 2020 and there was real hope that he could make strides with more in the way of reps coming his way.
To say this hasn’t worked out would be a massive understatement.
And there was absolutely no contingency plan.
Thomas has been a relative afterthought in Joe Brady’s scheme, which seems a little bizarre considering how much the coach utilized tight ends during his time as a passing coordinator at LSU during their National Championship triumph in 2019. This is an area that the Panthers need to address either in free agency or the 2021 NFL Draft and it might even result in the Indiana product being released.
In hindsight, Carolina should have brought in a more experienced figure just in case things didn’t work out with Thomas. Every good quarterback across the league has a reliable tight end and this has had a detrimental impact on Teddy Bridgewater’s chances of making an impression under center.