Panthers depth chart focus: Can tight ends thrive under Ben McAdoo?

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Tommy Tremble
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Tommy Tremble /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas /

Ian Thomas – Carolina Panthers TE

After another season of relatively little involvement in the passing game, it was hard to envisage a situation where Ian Thomas would still be on the Carolina Panthers in 2022. The former fourth-round pick was on an expiring contract and the installation of some new coaches meant many predicted the Indiana product to be moved on despite his high athletic attributes.

In a somewhat surprising move, the Panthers opted to give Thomas a three-year, $16.95 million contract extension with a $5 million signing bonus and $8 million guaranteed. A deal that looks pretty cheap compared to how much other tight ends were paid shortly after this agreement was reached.

This is all providing Thomas puts it all together. His blocking has progressed leaps and bounds, but the position requires much more and the player now has to repay this confidence where it counts.

Thomas getting a new deal obviously comes with Ben McAdoo’s seal of approval. However, it’s up to the offensive coordinator to turn some exciting physical traits into something much more between the white lines.

Everything is there for Thomas to succeed with McAdoo calling the shots. So it’s absolutely essential he’s put in a position to hit the ground running and generate as much early momentum as possible in 2022.

If he can do this, then Thomas does have some breakout potential entering Year 5 of his professional career.