4 Carolina Panthers players set for smaller roles in 2021

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Bravvion Roy
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Bravvion Roy /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas /

Ian Thomas – Carolina Panthers TE

Although Ian Thomas turned out in 65 percent of snaps on offense for the Carolina Panthers in 2020, his overall production left a lot to be desired. This was a player that had high hopes of filling the void left by prolific Pro Bowler Greg Olsen, but things obviously didn’t pan out as anybody expected.

Thomas struggled to find his place in Carolina’s passing attack, generating just 31 targets and bringing in 20 receptions. A far cry from what Olsen gave the organization before he eventually moved on to the Seattle Seahawks for the final season of his career.

Teams don’t get anywhere these days without a reliable tight end that can catch the football consistently. Carolina couldn’t wait around for Thomas in the event he actually improved on the final year of his deal, so bringing in both Dan Arnold and Tommy Tremble was the right call to make.

In fairness to Thomas, he’s responded well to the challenge according to head coach Matt Rhule. Just how much one can take from such a comment considering it’s usually a kiss of death for the player involved is another matter.

Even if Thomas is still on the roster going into the season, it’s going to be a monumental struggle for the Indiana product to force his fair share of targets in the passing game.