Yesterday, the Carolina Panthers officially released long-time veteran tight end Greg Olsen. This move that did not come as much of a surprise as it was a foregone conclusion Olsen and the Panthers would eventually part ways following the 2019 season, and Olsen himself made an announcement on twitter officially saying goodbye to Charlotte.
In his announcement, the veteran tight end did not rule out returning for the 2020 season, and explicitly stated he has not “closed the door on any potential career options.”
Olsen was entering the final year of his contract and the Panthers are undergoing a dramatic shift in their coaching staff moving on from now-Washington head coach Ron Rivera and hiring former Baylor head coach Matt Rhule.
According to The Athletic’s Joseph Pearson, multiple teams have already reached out to Olsen’s camp to gauge interest in the former Pro Bowl tight end. Yesterday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the tight end will be visiting the Buffalo Bills and the Washington Redskins later this week. Washington makes the most sense as he would reunite with his former head coach, Ron Rivera.
Former Panthers’ TE Greg Olsen will visit the Bills and Redskins this week, per source. Buffalo’s GM Brandon Beane used to be with Carolinas, as did Washington’s HC Ron Rivera.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 3, 2020
For the Jaguars, their tight end situation has needed work for quite sometime. Last season, the team fielded one of the worst tight end groups in team history from a production standpoint. The lack of production stemmed from injuries, scheme, and an overall lack of talent at the position. The team’s leading tight end — James O’Shaughnessy —, led the group in receptions (15), yards (153), and touchdowns (two), in only five games before he landed on the team’s reserve/injured list with a torn ACL.
The Jaguars could benefit greatly from a veteran tight end such as Olsen even as he enters his age-35 season. Over the course of his 13-year career, Olsen has accumulated 718 receptions, 8444 yards, and 59 touchdowns. Last season, Olsen accounted for 52 receptions for 597 yards and two touchdowns. For reference, the Jaguars tight end group accounted for 52 receptions for 454 yards combined last season.
The Jaguars will certainly be heavily evaluating their tight end position during the offseason. After selecting Josh Oliver in the third round of the 2019 draft, injuries forced him to miss 12 games, hauling in only three receptions for 15 yards on the season. While the team has not given up on Oliver as of right now, their confidence in him can’t be very high as he remains a big question mark within the group.
Olsen would bring a veteran presence to the Jaguars offense under new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who has worked with plenty of veteran tight ends in the past including recently-retired tight end Vernon Davis. The biggest question will certainly be regarding where Olsen himself would like to play next season, if at all. The soon-to-be 35-year old will not be void of options, and may want to play for an immediate contender — something the Jaguars likely will not be in 2020.
Ultimately, the Jaguars should not limit their options to upgrade the group in general. Olsen will not be expensive, and should still bring some stability at the position for at least a year. If the team were to reach out, and ultimately sign Olsen, he would simply be a first step in a complete overhaul that is desperately needed for the team’s weakest position group entering the 2020 offseason.