Chris Manhertz departure leaves big hole hole at tight end

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Chris Manhertz
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Chris Manhertz /

Chris Manhertz packed up for the summer sun of Jacksonville and left the Carolina Panthers with a significant hole at the tight end position.

Never underestimate the value of a good blocker. During his time with the Carolina Panthers, Chris Manhertz never really did the flashy things like a Greg Olsen or Travis Kelce, but what he did manage to contribute was equally important. He opened up the lane for others and took on some of the game’s best pass rushers, holding his ground in the process.

Manhertz may have ended his Panthers career with only 142 receiving yards. But that was never his game.

The Canisius product was the type of player that made everyone around him better and became overlooked as a result. Even on a team that has struggled mightily in protection and blocking in recent memory, Manhertz did manage to showcase what he was capable of despite his limitations in the passing game.

Chris Manhertz had some underrated moments in 2020.

One such moment was a spectacular catch by Curtis Samuel in the fourth quarter of a Week 9 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs. What many people didn’t notice was Manhertz all alone on the right side of the line against Frank Clark and the star defensive end didn’t even come close.

Another being the Week 8 flea-flicker, also to Samuel, and also able to be completed thanks in large part to the tight end’s pass protection.

Manhertz was also able to shut down Shaquill Barrett against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which most offensive linemen cannot even claim on their resume. The option to put the big tight end on the edge and trust in their ability to protect gave the Panthers unique flexibility that sometimes goes overlooked but it no less important.

An offensive lineman in a tight end’s frame would be a rather apt description of Manhertz’s ability and career. A player that didn’t shy away from the dirty work and in fact relished it. After he signed a free-agent deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina has another serious need to fill.

While the Panthers have gone out and, questionably, signed two offensive linemen this year, neither live up to the ability and flexibility of Manhertz. One may argue that the team still has Ian Thomas, and while that is true, the former Indiana standout was always seen as a pass catcher and didn’t live up to that let alone in blocking.

Another great player has left the Panthers in 2021 and that trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. While a player of Manhertz ability is truly rare, the team has got to at least try and seal that hole or there’s going to be a rough year ahead for whoever is under center.