Greg Olsen is 16 months removed from the end of his Carolina Panthers career, but his jersey number is already on the move.
One season after Olsen's release from the Panthers, the team gave his No. 88 to rookie wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. at rookie minicamp. The team's announcement of the decision almost seemed to go out of its way to not mention Olsen, who retired after spending last season with the Seattle Seahawks:
Wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. will wear No. 88, the first Panthers wideout to sport that number since Karl Hankton wore it from 2000-06.
Marshall wore No. 88 in high school, then wore No. 6 in college at LSU. With that number already taken by back-up quarterback P.J. Walker, Marshall went back to his old number despite some recent history around it.
Olsen told Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer he was unsure about the Panthers giving away his number, but more for Marshall's sake than his own:
You know I’ll be honest, I had mixed feelings about it. Donnie (Toner) in the (Panthers’) equipment room texted me and kind of gave me a heads up.
My whole thing was I didn’t want the kid to feel any pressure from me. That was his number. That’s what he wanted. I’ve heard he’s a great kid. I don’t have any animosity. I’m glad he’s going to wear it and hopefully he’s a great player. I have no ill will.
I’ll be honest, though — in the beginning I was like: I don’t know. It seemed kind of quick.
But that’s the way it goes. I wish nothing but the best for the kid. I was talking to Coach (Matt) Rhule at a golf outing and said, ‘Hey, I hope he (Marshall) plays well. I hope he does great. Just let him know that there’s a lot of balls that have been caught in that number. So you better go out and catch the ball.’
Olsen wore No. 88 for nine seasons in Carolina, racking up 6,463 receiving yards, a franchise record for a tight end. Whether or not that's grounds for a number retirement — or at least a cooling-off period — the Panthers are at least giving Olsen's number to a quality player.
The team selected Marshall in the second round with the 59th overall pick of the 2021 NFL draft. Yahoo Sports' Eric Edholm evaluated him as a quality deep threat with impressive measurables and production, with some additional development needed for the next level.
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