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Greg Olsen Carolina Panthers #88 Jerseys For Cheap

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There are a few storylines as the Carolina Panthers play their final two games of 2019, from how third-round pick Will Grier will respond to his first start at quarterback to whether Christian McCaffrey can become the third player in NFL history to record 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in a season.

There’s also uncertainty around the future of tight end Greg Olsen.

Olsen was cleared from the concussion protocol on Monday, which means he will be available for Sunday’s game at Indianapolis.

Despite having one year left on his contract, Olsen has no idea what his future holds because of his age (34), his salary-cap figure ($11.8 million) and the team's coaching change.

“No one ever gets to write their ending, write their final script," Olsen said Monday. “You don’t know what the future holds here. There’s been a lot of change. As I told you guys on the day we found out about Ron [Rivera being fired], change sometimes leads to other change. It’s hard to predict when and where that comes."

Olsen is going to treat the final two games as if they could be his last with the Panthers -- or in the NFL.

“From that point forward is anybody’s guess," Olsen said. “My intent is to make the most of these last two games, try to go out with as positive of an experience as I can, if that is your last opportunity. A lot of that is out of my control."

Olsen has been one of Carolina’s best players since 2011, when he came to Charlotte in a trade with Chicago. He made the Pro Bowl from 2014 to '16. In that span, he became the first tight end to have three straight seasons with more than 1,000 receiving yards.

He has caught more passes (520) for more yards (6,418) and touchdowns (78) than any tight end in Carolina history. Only four tight ends in NFL history have more career catches (714) than Olsen: Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten, Antonio Gates and Shannon Sharpe.

The only thing that slowed Olsen was a foot injury that forced him to miss 16 games in 2017 and 2018. He shunned potential deals as a TV analyst this year to return and prove he could still play at a high level.

He had 48 catches for 552 yards this season before a concussion suffered on a hit by Washington’s Ryan Anderson sidelined him the past two games.

“I still enjoy playing. I still enjoy being around the guys," Olsen said. “But sometimes the ball is not always in your court. There’s a lot of things that need to shake out before I have a lot of clarity on that. And then you kind of go from there."

Olsen would gladly return next season if the new staff wants him. He still believes he can be productive. He also understands the team could clear $8.1 million in salary-cap space by moving on from a player who will be 35 in March.

“Just trying to predict the unpredictable doesn’t do a lot of good right now," he said.

Olsen likely will again have the option of a network job. He received rave reviews for his analysis in the Fox Sports booth during Carolina’s bye week for the second straight year. In February, he appeared on ESPN’s Postseason NFL Countdown show on Super Bowl Sunday for the second straight year.

He acknowledges that television is something he’d like to pursue after football. Exactly when that might come, he doesn’t know. He hasn’t ruled out playing for another team next season if the Panthers decide to release or trade him.

“I would never shut the door on anything," Olsen said. “Obviously, I’ve re-signed here three times. Obviously, if I wanted to play somewhere else, I had my opportunities. I would never shut the door on anything without completely looking at it."

For now, Olsen is looking at these last two games. There is almost a nostalgic tone to his voice, as he realizes there are no guarantees after that.

His future is more uncertain than that of Grier, who, regardless of how he performs in his debut, will get another shot next season because of his age, salary and potential.

Olsen's future is also less certain than that of McCaffrey, who needs 186 receiving yards to join Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk as the only two players to get 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in a season.

At age 23, McCaffrey is the future. Most of Olsen’s playing days are in his past.

“I try not to play the hypothetical game," Olsen said. “I have two more games that I know hypothetically I can be a part of. Past that, those things are yet to be determined on a lot of different levels a lot higher than me."

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