Ian Thomas - Carolina Panthers TE
After another underwhelming campaign in the passing game, change was needed to bolster the tight-end options at Frank Reich's disposal. While his offensive scheme will be much friendlier to the position group, Ian Thomas and Tommy Tremble hadn't proven to be the most reliable options looking at their body of work under the old regime.
The Carolina Panthers pulled off a coup with the signing of Hayden Hurst, who played his college football at South Carolina and became a dependable target for quarterback Joe Burrow on the Cincinnati Bengals in 2022. With the staff also high on Tremble's potential under high-caliber NFL coaches for the first time, one would be hard-pressed to find space for Thomas all things considered.
It would have been a nervous wait for the former Indiana star after Hurst's arrival. Thankfully, a stroke of good fortune coupled with a compromise ensured Thomas got the chance to stick around - albeit on lesser play in a reduced role.
There is no doubt whatsoever that Thomas' saving grace came from a blocking standpoint. This represents the one area of his game that did come on encouragingly and accepting a pay cut more in keeping with his skills gives him a chance to assist in some capacity.
While no player probably likes taking fewer dollars, Thomas got paid more than the going rate to keep him around in 2022. And it's not like his $3.85 million salary-cap hit next season is chump change.