The Carolina Panthers are retaining another of their own free agents, resigning tight end Ian Thomas to a three-year contract on Friday. Thomas, a Panthers fourth-round pick in 2018, had 18 catches for 188 yards last season — playing 61% of offensive snaps and starting 13 games.
By Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Thomas will receive $16.5 million under the three-year deal, including $6.435 million in the first year of the contract. Thomas will receive $8 million fully guaranteed.
With Thomas back in the fold, the Panthers retained their starting tight end from last year — a position the franchise needs depth. Carolina also has Tommy Tremble and Colin Thomson back, but keeping Thomas in the fold gives Carolina an extra pass-catching option.
One of the reasons Carolina decided to bring Thomas back was the tight friendly system under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, which should increase his involvement in the passing game. Thomas has had just 38 catches for 303 yards the past two seasons but has been a dependable tackler on offense.
The Panthers have 19 other unrestricted free agents they need to decide if they’re worth keeping this offseason. Obviously, bringing Thomas back was a top priority.