Ian Thomas

Jags Select WR Brian Thomas Jr. At No. 23

The Jaguars were recently connected to a move up the board aimed to acquiring a receiver. Despite moving in the opposite direction, the team has still managed to land a high-profile prospect at the position. Jacksonville has selected LSU wideout Brian Thomas Jr23rd overall.

This draft featured three top-tier wide receiver prospects; all were off the board by No. 9 overall. Marvin Harrison Jr.Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze are respectively bound for Arizona, New York and Chicago. The Jags could not move into that territory, but they will still nab this class’ fourth wideout.

Thomas joins a Jaguars team that has already used plenty of resources to staff its pass-catching posts. The team has Christian Kirk on an $18MM-per-year deal, Gabe Davis at $13MM AAV and Zay Jones in the final year of an $8MM-per-year pact. Evan Engram is also signed to a top-10 tight end contract. The Jags also made a strong run at retaining Calvin Ridley, but the 1,000-yard wideout joined the Titans on a monster accord minutes after the 2024 league year began.

It is certainly arguable the Jags did not need to use such a high draft choice on another receiver, but the team is in negotiations with Trevor Lawrence on what will surely be a $50MM-plus-AAV contract. With Lawrence and Josh Allen soaring into new NFL tax brackets, the Jags will need to begin a new roster phase. Thomas is on track to step into a starting role — in place of one of the veterans — by 2025 (at the latest), and his rookie contract will be valuable for the team.

Working as Nabers’ wingman at LSU last season, Thomas still led Division I-FBS with 17 touchdown receptions. After two sub-400-yard years in Baton Rouge, the 6-foot-3 pass catcher erupted for 1,177 yards to help Jayden Daniels win the Heisman last season. Thomas will have a chance to continue as a complementary option, at least early in his career, alongside a deep WR corps in Jacksonville. The Jags will likely need to throw heavy resources into defense soon, given the unit’s struggles to close out last season.

The Jags did well to land a first-round-level receiver where they did, as they picked up a nice haul from the Vikings t0 move down from No. 17. The Jags acquired No. 167 this and 2025 third- and fourth-round selections from Minnesota. Those will certainly help as Trent Baalke and Co. prepare to retool the roster around a Lawrence extension, which could be finalized before Week 1.

Latest On Teams Targeting WRs In First Round

We know that the Steelers have been identified as a team that could be likely to trade for a veteran wide receiver this offseason, but what about teams looking for wide receivers in the first round? A lot of focus has been placed on teams looking to draft quarterbacks, per usual, but Jason La Canfora of The Washington Post provided us with the names of a few teams targeting pass-catchers on Day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft. La Canfora identifies the Cardinals, Bears, Colts, Bills, 49ers, and Chiefs as the likely suspects.

Some of these, we’ve heard plenty about already. At No. 4 overall, the Cardinals sit in the line of picks that are all expected to be quarterbacks, according to most mock drafts, meaning they are expected to trade down from the position. Many see them trading back to No. 6, allowing the Giants to select Daniel Jones‘ potential replacement. This would leave them in line to draft the class’s top receiver prospect, Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. This could provide Arizona with a new top receiver after the departure of Marquise Brown to Kansas City.

This would require the Chargers to pass on wide receiver, a huge position of need after watching both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams depart this offseason. While it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see Los Angeles select Harrison, new general manager Joe Hortiz (from Baltimore) has shown an affinity for Notre Dame prospects like Ronnie Stanley and Kyle Hamilton. Combine that with the addition of new offensive coordinator Greg Roman, and connections to Notre Dame offensive tackle Joe Alt make all the sense in the world. Roman’s run-heavy offensive mentality makes tackle a bigger priority than receiver in the first round.

Wide receiver has been seen as less of a priority for the Bears after they acquired Allen in a trade from the Chargers. Still, drafting a top receiver prospect like LSU’s Malik Nabers or Washington’s Rome Odunze could give projected new quarterback Caleb Williams a strong trio of targets with Allen and D.J. Moore. Chicago could pair the draft’s QB1 with a potential WR1 as ESPN’s Matt Miller tells us that there are some teams in the NFL who see Nabers and Odunze as better prospects than Harrison. The three receivers are closer than people may think on most draft boards and their order of preference could come down to scheme and fit.

In Indianapolis, the Colts would love to bring in a first-round receiver for second-year quarterback Anthony Richardson. Josh Downs and Alec Pierce were decent options behind Michael Pittman Jr., but having a true weapon across the field could really help both Richardson and Pittman. If Harrison, Nabers, and Odunze find their way off the board by the time the Colts select at No. 15, LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. could fall into their lap, though Odunze could still be available if nobody takes a flyer on him as the best player available regardless of position.

At the back end of the first round, wide receiver has become a big need for the Bills after they watched Gabriel Davis depart in free agency and traded away Stefon Diggs to the Texans. Khalil Shakir now leads the position room, and though the top four receivers aren’t expected to be available by the 28th pick, pairing Shakir with Texas’ Adonai Mitchell, FSU’s Keon Coleman, or Florida’s Ricky Pearsall could be productive.

As for the 49ers and Chiefs in the last two picks of the draft, San Francisco is a bit of surprise inclusion after recently paying Deebo Samuel and still currently denying that Brandon Aiyuk is available via trade. Still, if Aiyuk is potentially on the way out, taking flyer on Mitchell, Coleman, or Pearsall could work out.

As for Kansas City, they’ve tried their fair share of veteran free agent additions for Patrick Mahomes, and will do so again with the addition of Brown this offseason, as well as some draft picks in the second round or later. We’ve seen the Chiefs have success with smaller wide receivers with speed, so bringing in Georgia’s Ladd McConkey, Michigan’s Roman Wilson, or Texas’ Xavier Worthy could make a lot of sense.

Whoever doesn’t hear their name called on the first night of the draft shouldn’t have to wait too long. Dane Brugler of The Athletic’s latest mock draft showed the Panthers selecting McConkey with their first pick of the draft, which will be the first pick of the second round. If McConkey is already off the board, Wilson and Worthy offer similar skill sets.

It’s a deep class for wide receivers this year. Top prospects like Harrison, Nabers, Odunze, and Thomas are considered no-brainers as first-round picks. An early run on those four could see many of the pass-catchers behind them find their way into the first round, as well. Even so, there are nearly 20 wideouts with a projected third-round grade or better. Not only is this a wide receiver class with lots of talent up top, but talent throughout will benefit teams who need receivers but will have to target other positions of need first.

Panthers Designate CB Jaycee Horn For Return, Activate TE Ian Thomas

NOVEMEBER 18: Horn will remain on injured reserve for now, but Thomas has been activated, per a team announcement. The latter will have a large role to play immediately upon return since Hurst is out with a concussion. Thomas will aim to give Carolina a needed complementary option in the passing game late in the year with the jobs of several members of the organization potentially on the line.

NOVEMBER 13: The Panthers have been hit hard on the injury front this season, but a pair of reinforcements are on the way. The team announced on Monday that cornerback Jaycee Horn and tight end Ian Thomas have returned to practice.

Both players’ 21-day activation windows have been opened as a result. They must be activated within that span to avoid reverting to season-ending injured reserve. Horn has been eligible to return for some time now, but it was clear when he was initially placed on IR that a lengthy absence would be coming. A hamstring injury has kept the 23-year-old sidelined since Week 1.

Horn named remaining healthy as a key goal for his third season in Carolina, but injuries have remained a major factor in his young career. The former first-rounder was limited to just three games as a rookie, and he missed another four contests last year. After recording 53 tackles and three interceptions in 2022, though, his return will be a welcomed development for a Panther defense which, in his absence, has delivered a strong showing against the pass so far.

Thomas’ return will add depth to Carolina’s TE room, one which has been led by free agent addition Hayden Hurst. Thomas – who has missed the past four games due to a calf injury – showed promise as a rookie with 333 receiving yards, but he has yet to eclipse the 200-yard mark since then. The 27-year-old logged a career-low 24% snap share during his five games in 2023 prior to being placed on IR. Once back on the field, he will offer a complementary passing option as well as another contributor with respect to run blocking.

In anticipation of bringing Horn and Thomas back onto the 53-man roster, the Panthers also announced a number of other moves on Monday. Defensive back Matthias Farley and tight end Jordan Matthews have been let go, and they are now subject to waivers. Carolina also signed outside linebacker Eku Leota to the active roster since he had been designated a gameday elevation from the practice squad the maximum three times. The return of Horn and Thomas will leave the Panthers with four IR activations for the rest of the season.

Panthers Place TE Ian Thomas On IR; Activate TE Stephen Sullivan

The Panthers are trading one tight end from injured reserve for another with today’s transactions. Carolina has opted to send tight end Ian Thomas to IR as he recovers from a calf injury, according to Panthers staff writer Darin Gantt. Reinforcements will arrive swiftly, though, as tight end Stephen Sullivan has been activated off of IR in Thomas’ place.

Injuries are working their way through the roster in Carolina this week. Running back Miles Sanders and safeties Vonn Bell and Xavier Woods may lead the headlines as inactives, but backup tight end Giovanni Ricci has also been ruled out for tomorrow’s game with a shoulder injury, leaving just Hayden Hurst and Tommy Tremble atop the depth chart.

Sullivan will be making his 2023 season-debut his weekend after being placed on IR to start the year. Through three years in the NFL, Sullivan has only reeled in two catches for 46 yards, but he’ll provide some important depth this Sunday.

In addition to the above two moves, the Panthers will be calling up safety Matthias Farley and offensive lineman Justin McCray from the practice squad as standard gameday elevations. With Bell out as a starter, Farley is not only expected to play, but he is also expected to make his first start since 2020. McCray may not get significant playing time, but he will provide some serious depth off the bench as the team prepares to deal with the neck injury of Chandler Zavala, another inactive starter.

NFL Restructures: Smith, Mahomes, Fitzpatrick, Peat, Thomas, Hines, Waller

We had news recently that Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith had agreed to restructure his contract with the team, reducing his massive $17.6MM cap hit. Thanks to Todd Archer of ESPN, we now have some details on the deal. Smith was headed into the last year of an eight-year agreement, so his restructure essentially functions as a one-year contract.

The newly restructured contract will be a one-year, $6MM deal with a potential maximum value of $17MM. He received a $3MM signing bonus for the changes and has his $3MM base salary guaranteed. The deal rapidly escalates from there with several playing time incentives. Smith will receive an additional $1MM bonus for each of these snap share thresholds: 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, and 90%. This means that if he plays over 90% of the Cowboys’ offensive snaps, he will receive $9MM, one for each of the nine levels.

He can also receive playoff incentives, 75% of which are paid off of wins alone. The remaining 25% is paid if he plays over half of the team’s offensive snaps in those wins. He would receive $500,000 for each playoff win in which he plays the majority of the snaps. With four possible playoff wins, that’s a total of $2MM in playoff bonuses. Those plus the $9MM from the playing time incentives and the $6MM guaranteed at signing push the contract to it’s maximum value of $17MM.

Here is some other news on restructures from around the league:

  • The Chiefs created some financial breathing room by restructuring star quarterback Patrick Mahomes‘s massive contract, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. The team converted $12MM of his 2023 roster bonus into a signing bonus, creating $9.6MM in cap space for the season.
  • Yates also reports that the Steelers found some cap space by restructuring the contract of a star. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick agreed to a restructured deal that would reward the Steelers with $10.07MM of additional cap space in 2023 by converting $13.42MM of his 2023 salary into a signing bonus.
  • The Saints were able to gain some cap room by restructuring the deal of guard Andrus Peat, according to Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football. The team converted $4MM of his 2023 salary into a signing bonus, reducing his salary from $11.83MM to $7.83MM. He then took an additional pay cut to reduce his 2023 base salary to $1.5MM as the team voided out his 2024 salary, adding three more voidable years to the deal. The moves resulted in an additional $9.53MM in cap space for New Orleans.
  • Another NFC South player reportedly took a pay cut as Panthers tight end Ian Thomas agreed to a restructured deal, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. In his new deal, Thomas will earn $3MM in 2023 and $3.65MM in 2024. The deal creates an additional $2.88MM in cap space.
  • Another report from Yates tells us that the Bills have agreed to a renegotiated contract with running back Nyheim Hines. While the details are not yet available, it entails a $1MM signing bonus and the opportunity to earn $4.79MM in bonuses, clearing out some cap space for Buffalo while providing some incentives for Hines next season.
  • Lastly, following the tight end’s trade to the Giants, Darren Waller has agreed to a renegotiated deal with his new team, according to Yates. New York has converted $9.84MM of his 2023 base salary into a signing bonus. The move creates $7.87MM in additional cap space for the Giants.

Panthers TE Ian Thomas Facing Five Misdemeanor Charges

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.

[RELATED: Panthers Re-Sign TE Ian Thomas]

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

Panthers Re-Sign TE Ian Thomas

The Panthers have re-upped another one of their pending free agents. Per a team announcement, they have re-signed TE Ian Thomas to a three-year deal. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport adds that the contract is worth a total of $16.95MM, with $8MM fully guaranteed (Twitter link).

Thomas’ rookie contract was set to expire, but he will now stay put in Carolina. A former fourth round pick, his rookie campaign was the most productive, as he totalled 36 catches for 333 yards and two touchdowns. Since then, though, it has become clear that blocking is his forte.

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. With new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, Thomas and 2021 rookie Tommy Tremble could be in line for an increased workload.

The new deal puts Thomas in the neighborhood of other highly-regarded blocking tight ends. Last season, for instance, the Ravens gave Nick Boyle a two-year, $13MM contract. The $5.65MM annual average makes Thomas’s deal the largest of the three taken care of by the Panthers so far, the other two being linebacker Frankie Luvu and long snapper J.J. Jansen

Greg Olsen Will Not Play Against Falcons

Panthers tight end Greg Olsen will not play this week against the Falcons while he recovers from a concussion, tweets Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. Olsen left Carolina’s game last Sunday against Washington after linebacker Ryan Anderson delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit. Anderson was ejected from the game, but Olsen continues to suffer the consequences from the play.

Over his 13-year career, Olsen has been one of the best and most consistent receiving tight ends in the NFL. While injuries limited his production in 2017 and 2018, Olsen was in the middle of a resurgent season as one of the Panthers leading receivers. In his 12 starts, Olsen has amassed 48 receptions for 552 yards.

Young tight end Ian Thomas filled in for Olsen last Sunday and is expected to do the same this week. While Thomas has only made five catches on the season, he started for Olsen six times in 2018 and averaged nearly seven catches for 40 yards a game. Of course, that production was with Cam Newton at quarterback, so Thomas will need to develop a stronger rapport with current starter Kyle Allen.

Panthers’ Greg Olsen Fractures Foot

For the second straight season, Greg Olsen‘s going to miss time because of a foot fracture. The Panthers confirmed the Pro Bowl tight end’s exit from Sunday’s win was because of another fractured foot.

Olsen will be evaluated on a monthly basis. It appears the Panthers are preparing for the veteran pass-catcher to miss extensive time. An IR stay was required because of a similar occurrence in 2017. It’s the same right foot Olsen broke last season.

The team announced no plans are in place for Olsen to undergo surgery, but he’s almost certainly out for the foreseeable future nonetheless. Olsen missed nine games last season as a result of his foot injury; a similar absence appears likely for Cam Newton‘s top target.

This throws a wrench into the Panthers’ plans. They signed the 33-year-old tight end to a two-year extension this offseason. And Carolina does not have the depth at this position that existed on its 2017 roster. Ed Dickson defected as a free agent. Former waiver claim Chris Manhertz and fourth-round rookie Ian Thomas, an Indiana product, comprise the Panthers’ backup contingent.

The Panthers also revealed Daryl Williams will undergo knee surgery, and the Charlotte Observers’ Jourdan Rodrigue tweets it’s the same knee the right tackle injured during training camp. Although, it’s a different injury. Williams damaged his MCL and dislocated his patella during camp. Rodrigue notes Williams had an MRI done Monday morning and sought a second opinion before deciding to undergo surgery. It’s unclear precisely what the contract-year blocker is dealing with now.

An IR decision looms for the Panthers, with two players seemingly posing as candidates. Though, that’s not a choice the Panthers would want to make after Week 1, when other injuries could surely occur down the line. But Williams does appear headed there, per Rodrigue (on Twitter). The current line of thinking, though, points to Olsen avoiding the injured list. Of course, Williams was believed to be an IR candidate after his last knee injury only to avoid it and play in Week 1.

It’s unclear how long he will be out, but Amini Silatolu looks to be the next man up, per ESPN.com’s David Newton, who adds Thomas will get the first crack at replacing Olsen as the Panthers’ tight end starter. While Silatolu will get a look, the Panthers are expected to be on the lookout for tackle help, Newton adds.

Draft Pick Signings: 5/10/18

Here are the rest of Thursday’s draft pick accords:

  • The Buccaneers signed one of their three second-round picks in cornerback M.J. Stewart (No. 53 overall), Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. They also agreed to terms with their final three picks — Kansas State safety Jordan Whitehead (Round 4, pick 117), Penn wide receiver Justin Watson (Round 5, pick 144) and Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy (Round 6, pick 202).
  • Five-sixths of this Falcons draft class is now signed. Atlanta agreed to a deal with third-round defensive tackle Deadrin Senat (No. 90 overall out of South Florida). After already signing four other selections, only first-rounder Calvin Ridley remains unsigned.
  • The Steelers signed one of the safeties they drafted last month in agreeing to terms with Penn State product Marcus Allen (Round 5, pick 148). Pittsburgh also signed Alabama defensive tackle Joshua Frazier (Round 7, pick 246).
  • The Jaguars came to terms with four of their seven draftees — the final four Jacksonville selected in this year’s draft. N.C. State tackle Will Richardson (Round 4, pick 129), Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee (Round 6, pick 203), Wisconsin linebacker Leon Jacobs (Round 7, pick 230) and Mississippi State punter Logan Cooke (Round 7, pick 247) all signed their first Jags contracts Thursday. Cooke has a clear path toward the Jags’ punter job since the team released Brad Nortman two days after the draft.
  • Beginning their signings, the Titans agreed to deals with half of their four-man draft class. Tennessee signed Arizona cornerback Dane Cruikshank (Round 5, pick 152) and Washington State quarterback Luke Falk (Round 6, pick 199). The latter will attempt to develop behind Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert.
  • Following suit in bringing aboard the back half of their draft, the Bills agreed to deals with four rookies. Jacksonville State safety Siran Neal, Virginia Tech guard Wyatt Teller (Round 5, pick 166), Clemson wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud (Round 6, pick 187) and North Carolina wideout Austin Proehl (Round 7, pick 255) signed their initial Buffalo deals.
  • Second-round Panthers pick Donte Jackson (No. 55 overall) signed his rookie contract. Indiana tight end Ian Thomas (Round 4, pick 101), Ole Miss defensive end Marquis Haynes (Round 4, pick 136), Maryland linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. (Round 5, pick 161) and Miami defensive tackle Kendrick Norton (Round 7, pick 242) followed suit.