After earning a new contract from the Panthers last week, tight end Ian Thomas is now dealing with some legal issues. According to Joseph Person of The Athletic, Thomas is facing five misdemeanor charges stemming from an incident last summer.
According to the report, police approached Thomas after they noticed he was driving a motorized dirt bike that didn’t have a license plate (Thomas was also traveling with a driver of an ATV that also didn’t have plates). After initially slowing down for the officer, Thomas and the other driver accelerated and left the scene. Thomas later stopped and was arrested. He was booked on five counts, including reckless driving and felony fleeing to elude. Thomas’ attorney told Person that prosecutors have reduced the one felony charge to a misdemeanor.
A team spokesperson told Person that the organization was aware of the matter and notified the NFL following the arrest. In other words, this isn’t surprise news to the Panthers, and they were aware of the legal matter when they inked the tight end to a new deal.
Thomas’ rookie contract was set to expire, leading to the new deal. A former fourth-round pick, his rookie campaign was the most productive, as he totaled 36 catches for 333 yards and two touchdowns. In the the past three years, the 25-year-old hasn’t topped 20 receptions or 188 yards. His work as a blocker has made up for that, earning him a snap rate of over 60% for each of the past two seasons. Durability hasn’t been an issue, either, as he has yet to miss a game in his career