The Tight End position has been one of the strengths in Carolina in recent years. But with a lingering foot and ankle issues for Greg Olsen, its time to look at the future beyond #88.
Olsen has been about as consistent and reliable as anyone in the league since being traded to Carolina in 2011. The only Tight End EVER to record 3 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, injuries have plagued Olsen over the last two seasons but he says he feels great heading into camp. When healthy, Olsen is a top 5 TE in the NFL and a great presence on the field and in the locker room.
Thomas is likely our guy of the future. He showed real promise when filling in for Greg Olsen for the last couple of years. Over the last month of the season in 2018, Thomas accounted for 25 receptions for 246 yards and 2 TDs. Not bad for a fourth-round pick. Thomas has been through a ton growing up and it shows as he leads with quiet confidence. He’s ready to succeed so whenever Olsen decides to retire for the booth.
Manhertz has bounced around between the New Orleans Saints practice squad and the Panthers since he entered the league in 2015. While he is more of a blocking TE, his hands have shown value in the passing game at times (hauled in a 50-yard touchdown last season). I don’t anticipate Manhertz challenging Olsen or Thomas for the 1st or 2nd string spots. Manhertz is a solid depth guy and good for situational blocking so I see him sticking around as the #3 TE.
While there are a few more names competing for a roster spot, no one jumps out as a guy to supplant the guys listed above. If any of them stick around it would be on the practice squad. The Panthers will not keep more than 3 TE’s on the active roster so the only guy that could be fighting for his roster spot is Manhertz.
TE1- Greg Olsen
TE2- Ian Thomas
TE3- Chris Manhertz
Stay tuned as I start breaking down the Defense over the next few days!