4 Panthers who could tumble down depth chart after 2023 free agency

(Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images) Ian Thomas
(Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images) Ian Thomas /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas /

Ian Thomas – Carolina Panthers TE

According to Mike Kaye of the Charlotte Observer based on the conversations at the NFL Scouting Combine, the Carolina Panthers will be aggressive in their pursuit of finding a tight end capable of providing more influence in the passing game. Something that’s been sorely lacking ever since Greg Olsen departed for the Seattle Seahawks in 2020.

This is welcome news for an offense that got good blocking from the position but almost no consistent numbers in terms of receiving yards and touchdowns. Whether this comes via free agency or the 2023 NFL Draft is irrelevant – as long as it arrives in some capacity.

Carolina would be foolish to ignore the number of productive veterans set to test the market. What this means for Ian Thomas‘ future remains to be seen, but his days as the team’s No. 1 tight end option are probably a thing of the past.

Thomas has emerged as one of the league’s best blocking tight ends, which he displayed on countless occasions last season. While that’s positive, the position requires much more and there is a large enough sample size to convince the Panthers he’ll never reach the heights expected after a promising rookie campaign.

There should still be a role to play for Thomas – especially within a more expansive offensive scheme under Frank Reich – but this might be in a secondary/blocking capacity rather than seeing prominent targets.