Although they’ll be without tight end Greg Olsen for at least eight weeks, the Panthers are not interested in free agent Gary Barnidge, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).
Barnidge is no stranger to Carolina, as he spent the first four seasons of his career as a backup tight end with the Panthers. Set to turn 32 years old this week, Barnidge had been linked to Carolina earlier this offseason after being released by the Browns, but it’s not clear if any meeting was ever actually arranged.
Other clubs — including the Jaguars, Bills, and Broncos — have also been tied to Barnidge this year, but he has yet to land a contract. The Texans, who recently lost three tight ends to concussions, worked out Barnidge a week ago but didn’t offer him a deal. Bardnidge’s lack of a pact is a surprise given that he averaged 67 receptions, 828 yards, and six touchdowns over the past two seasons and graded as the league’s No. 1 pass-blocking tight end in 2016, per Pro Football Focus.
Without Olsen in tow, the Panthers will turn to veteran Ed Dickson — who’s angling to be used in an Olsen-esque manner — as their starting tight end. Chris Manhertz is the only other tight end on the roster, but Carolina promoted fullback Alex Armah (who played some tight end in college) to the active roster today.
Instead of Barnidge, the Panthers auditioned fellow tight ends Jace Amaro, Gavin Escobar, and Kellen Davis today, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com. Amaro and Escobar are both failed former second-round picks, while Davis isn’t much of a receiver — he’s managed only three receptions over the past three seasons. Still, with Dickson set to take over the starting tight end role, Carolina is likely looking for an addition who excels at blocking.