Panthers Face Tough Decision On Whether to Keep Shockey

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 01: Teammates Jonathan Stewart #28 Cam Newton #1 and Jeremy Shockey #80 of the Carolina Panthers celebrate after Newton's pass for a touchdown to Shockey against the Pittsburgh Steelers during their preseason game at Bank of America Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

So after twelve games have you seen enough to think the Panthers should re-sign TE Jeremy Shockey for 2012 or even beyond? I think this Yahoo Sports contributer lays out the pluses and minuses this decision bears on the Panthers but in the final analysis suggests Gary Barnidge could replace him:

Gary Barnidge is not going to light the league on fire, but he would not have to. With Greg Olsen in the lineup, Barnidge would simply need to play Shockey's role. Replacing the minimal yards and touchdowns would be easy, and Barnidge is a very capable blocker. The one area that would hurt would be in the leadership department, but with Steve Smith, Cam Newton and Jon Beason around, that would not be a major issue.

I have a hard time arguing with his point that Barnidge can replace Shockey's production and blocking (provided he is fully healed). It is the leadership qualities that I think should have more weight than given. Steve Smith may be a leader in some ways but he's not a motivator. Beason is but he plays defense and is not in the huddle. Maybe Cam can provide all the motivation that is needed on offense...but there a part of me that thinks Shockey provides a needed veteran voice in the huddle. A voice that will be needed for Newton himself as he continues to mature.

Shockey is more of a lead by example type of leader, similar to Cam. But also when things are getting tough and down the wire we know Shockey will speak up and give some non-nonense speeches to the offense. We know he will give it to the refs if they make a bad call. We know he will lay it on the line every week, he is that type of player. That is tough find.

More discussion and a fan poll after the jump

It the Panthers decide Shockey's leadership has significant value does it make up for the added cost? $700k versus $3M - $3.5M? As pointed out I think that has to give the Panthers pause and will depend on what other moves are planned. Yet I would expect a decision on Shockey might be one of the first moves the Panthers make after the season is over. Shockey would most likely get looks on the market given he has actually remained for the most part injury free (knock on wood).

Another option not mentioned would be to cut Ben Hartsock instead though we wouldn't have near the financial impact of letting Shockey walk. Though Barnidge would remain the 3rd string TE he would have to feel better about given the Panthers use all three TE's throughout a game. I'm ready to see what Barnidge can do if on the field for 15-20 snaps a game.

So what do you think the Panthers should do Panther fans?

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