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Panthers bring back tight end Ian Thomas


CHARLOTTE — The Panthers brought back another one of their own free agents Friday, filling another spot on the depth chart in advance of the new league year.

The team has agreed to terms with tight end Ian Thomas on a new three-year contract. He was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on March 16.

Thomas, their fourth-round pick in 2018, had 18 receptions for 188 yards last year.

But he has evolved into a reliable blocker, and is walking into a revamped offense which leaves room for growth as a receiver. He had 36 catches for 33 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie.

New coordinator Ben McAdoo's system has always been friendly for tight ends, and having Thomas and Tommy Tremble gives them a place to start this offseason, as they revamp the offense.

The Panthers also have Stephen Sullivan, Giovanni Ricci, and Colin Thompson under contract at the moment, so there's less of a pressing need to add more parts in free agency.

They still have 19 unrestricted free agents, having already retained linebacker Frankie Luvu and long snapper JJ Jansen.

Ian Thomas has played four seasons with Carolina after getting drafted out of Indiana in 2018.