5 Carolina Panthers players with big shoes to fill in 2021

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Jaycee Horn
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Jaycee Horn /
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Carolina Panthers
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Dan Arnold /

Dan Arnold – Carolina Panthers TE

  • Shoes to fill – Greg Olsen

Letting Greg Olsen walk in free agency to sign for the Seattle Seahawks in 2020 was a mistake in hindsight. Ian Thomas just didn’t do enough to be considered a viable long-term option at the tight end position, leaving the Carolina Panthers looking for additional reinforcements this offseason.

They managed to get their hands on Dan Arnold in free agency. The player has worked with Joe Brady before and comes into a new situation having attained some career numbers for the Arizona Cardinals last time around.

This represents a big opportunity for Arnold. Putting up the sort of numbers Olsen managed to accomplish over a consistent period of time in Carolina is a stretch, but there is nothing to suggest he cannot make a massive difference across the middle or in the red zone.

Brady loved using tight ends during his time as a passing game coordinator at LSU. So it was a surprise to see Thomas involved so little last season.

Perhaps the Panthers weren’t convinced in the player’s dependability, which is always tough to come back from.

Arnold should change all this in an instant. He is an athletic pass-catcher who has the range to go up and get the football at its highest point. Traits we didn’t see from Thomas in 2020.

The addition of third-round pick Tommy Tremble also comes with some upside – although his catching ability needs some refinement. Expect to see Arnold used frequently as Carolina looks to make him Olsen’s long-term successor if everything goes right.