The dark-horse emerges over the horizon. When veteran tight end Greg Olsen’s post-Panthers options included permanently making the jump to the broadcast booth (haul in a massive bag of cash) or signing with a pair of teams (Washington or Buffalo) with the allure of familiar coaches, it felt like he’d swing in either of those two directions.
All throughout, the appeal of the third team courting him, the Seattle Seahawks, just wasn’t discussed enough.
Familiarity be damned, it’s clear Olsen prioritized one last real run at a Super Bowl ring over the comfort of coaches he knew. Of course, money speaks louder than most proclamations and the Seahawks being willing to fork over a hefty $5.5 million guaranteed certainly helped entice Olsen to postpone his broadcasting career one more year.
However, there’s another clear difference between Washington/Buffalo and the team that Olsen ultimately chose to sign with: The quarterback position.
If you suffered through watching Carolina Panthers football in 2019, it was impossible to not notice how often the veteran tight end seemed outright exasperated with the obvious limitations of Kyle Allen. Recall that Olsen racked up 18 targets in Cam Newton’s lone two starts to begin last season and looked rejuvenated while tearing through the open field after multiple foot injuries. After dominating the Cardinals (which doesn’t count — every tight end did that last year) in Allen’s first start, Olsen vanished from the offense.
The rest of his 2019 season was mired in confused looks he shot at the incapable player who replaced his longtime running mate in Cam Newton. Sports Info Solutions deemed just 73.2 percent of Greg Olsen’s 82 targets as “catchable,” which ranked 23rd out of 27 tight ends to draw 50-plus looks.
Why would Olsen want to run the risk of dealing with more growing pains alongside Dwayne Haskins or the volatility Josh Allen naturally brings? As we see, he did not. That would have been too close to what he dealt with in Carolina last season.
For that reason, the signing works. Seattle won’t miss the money if they get comparable production to what Olsen gave a Carolina team toiling with bad quarterbacks in a largely healthy 2019 season. The Russell Wilson-era Seahawks have routinely watched wildly random tight ends pop up for big stretches, with Jacob Hollister and Will Dissly sharing that mantle just last year. Now that he’s paired with an MVP-level quarterback in Wilson, Olsen can provide a stable presence for this contending squad.
It’s easy to be cynical with older players, but at a tough-to-solve tight end position, our threshold for relevancy should be lowered quite a bit. If he checks the health boxes like he did last season, look for Olsen to hover around the fringes of the TE1 radar in fantasy leagues.