4 things that must change for the Carolina Panthers in 2024

Many things must change for the Carolina Panthers in 2024.
Bryce Young
Bryce Young / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers tight ends must be involved heavily

Since Greg Olsen left in 2020, the Carolina Panthers have not had a legitimate threat at tight end. Ian Thomas was originally slated to be his successor, but it’s been six years since he was drafted as such and he has yet to show his worth despite a contract extension just a couple of offseasons ago.

Hayden Hurst was signed in 2023 free agency with the expectation that he’d significantly impact Bryce Young’s development for the better. Instead, he suffered a head injury and is no longer with the team, taking his talents to Southern California with Jim Harbaugh and the Los Angeles Chargers.

That leaves Thomas, Tommy Tremble, Stephen Sullivan, and rookie Ja’Tavion Sanders as the top four tight ends on the roster. In most cases that is not an ideal situation. There is an argument that the Panthers should’ve been more aggressive at the position. However, there is hope that this group could be more involved in the offense for the first time in over half a decade.

Dave Canales is a creative offensive mind and will often work with a player’s strengths. Expect the same for this tight-end group.

Thomas received rave reviews from early offseason activities. Tremble’s red-zone production and athleticism flashed this past season. Both have shown strengths as run blockers yet have never had their pass-catching skill set utilized in its entirety. Sanders, the Panthers fourth-round selection out of Texas, was drafted for his alignment versatility and receiving skill set. 

One of the biggest things that must change this season is the tight ends' involvement in the passing game. Utilizing them in this area could benefit Young’s progression as a quarterback.

Tremble enters training camp as the “Y”, while Sanders is slated in the “F” move role. Thomas is the third tight end used on heavy sets in short-yardage situations. Should the Panthers get more production from this trio, it will greatly benefit the offense and its quarterback moving forward.