The Carolina Panthers may have caught a lucky break. After the top three tight ends in the 2017 NFL draft went in the first round unexpectedly, the Panthers sat on the sidelines the rest of the draft in terms of adding a tight end to their roster. It seems their luck had run out, or had it?
It just so happens that the day after the draft, the Cleveland Browns released pro bowl tight end Gary Barnidge. Barnidge was a Carolina Panther for several seasons, and a fan favorite to boot. Although Panthers coaches saw much potential in Gary, he did not develop at a quick enough pace for their liking. Barnidge went on to develop into one of the better tight ends in the league, just as so many Panthers fans thought he would do.
We know that the Panthers are interested in Barnidge, but they likely have him pegged for a second tight end role. After all, there isn’t a tight end in the league that could take reps away from Greg Olsen at this point. The Panthers would likely use Barnidge mainly in two tight end sets, so you can figure about 20-ish reps a game at most.
The bad news for Panthers fans? Plenty of teams could use Barnidge as their number one tight end, and more importantly, pay him accordingly. Barnide is said to be visiting the Buffalo Bills today and have plans to visit the Jacksonville Jaguars later. As hopeful as I am to see Barnidge back in a Carolina Panthers uniform, I am not holding my breath. At this point, it is more likely that he will be elsewhere this NFL season.