4 Panthers starters that could be benched during 2022 season

(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas /
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Carolina Panthers
(Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas /

Ian Thomas – Carolina Panthers TE

One of the more surprising moves made this offseason was handing Ian Thomas a three-year extension to prevent the tight end from departing in free agency. The Carolina Panthers got almost nothing from a pass-catching standpoint from the player once again in 2021 and it was widely expected those in power would go in a different direction.

Considering the tight end market in free agency, the Panthers judged things pretty well. But that does not detract from what an important season awaits the Indiana product within Ben McAdoo’s system.

McAdoo was likely influential in the decision to keep Thomas around. The new offensive coordinator is renowned for using tight ends heavily within his game plan and the former fourth-round pick could be a primary beneficiary of this shift in approach.

Thomas deserves credit for improving his blocking capabilities. And he does possess the right physical and athletic attributes to become a force if utilized correctly.

If Thomas gets some early opportunities and fluffs his lines, then he’ll likely be deputizing for Tommy Tremble at some stage. The third-round selection out of Notre Dame showed flashes of promise in 2021 and will no doubt fancy his chances of a bigger role next time around.