Amid recent reports of Gary Barnidge’s struggles in training camp, there is now speculation that he may not make the Carolina Panthers roster. Earlier this offseason, it seemed like the plan at the tight end position was to roll with Greg Olsen and Gary Barnidge, after the front office elected not to re-sign Jeremy Shockey. However, if Barnidge continues to struggle, he could be a roster casualty when it is time to trim the roster down to 53 men, leaving the team with only one proven pass catching tight end in Greg Olsen. Today, I’ll have a look at the pros and cons of bringing back Jeremy Shockey on another one year deal as an insurance policy, if Barnidge doesn’t pan out.
A proven commodity
Even at the age of 31, Jeremy Shockey was very effective playing in his first year with rookie quarterback Cam Newton, in the Panthers brand new offense. He was a key component in the Panthers dual tight end attack, as he shared the responsibilities with fellow tight end Greg Olsen. The two complemented each other quite well playing together. Despite not being the featured tight end in the offense, Shockey still managed to put up decent numbers, as he had 37 receptions for 455 yards and four touchdowns catches in fifteen games played. Even with the addition of Mike Tolbert this offseason, Shockey, at 6-5, 251 lbs would add yet another dimension to an already scary offense.
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Excellent insurance policy
If Gary Barnidge is cut, the Panthers will be left with only one proven tight end in Greg Olsen. It would be a huge risk to enter the regular season without any quality depth behind him, as injuries can occur in football at any given time. Therefore, it would be nice to have a proven veteran playing behind Olsen, and Shockey is the perfect match. Even if the Panthers choose not to run a two tight end set this season, it will still be nice to have Shockey on the bench as a back-up who can be brought onto the field in certain situations.
Developing chemistry with the quarterback is very important for tight ends and wide receivers, but it often takes time for new acquisitions to get on the same page as the quarterback. Fortunately for the Panthers, Shockey already played for a year in the current offensive system, displaying excellent chemistry with Cam. It would also be nice for Cam, as it would give him another familiar target to throw to. The fact that Shockey knows the offense and the players, along with the coaching staff is a huge plus for the team because even if he signs now, this late in the offseason, he can still come in and produce for the Panthers offense.
The addition of Mike Tolbert
The addition of Mike Tolbert to the Panthers has mitigated the need for another pass catching tight end. Tolbert is a deadly multipurpose back, with excellent running and catching ability. There is no doubt that Tolbert will be heavily featured in the Panthers offense, and he should make up for the production left behind by Shockey. As a result, the Panthers don’t really need to bring back Shockey because they effectively replaced him with Tolbert.
Unsigned for a reason
It is possible that Shockey wants more money than what the Panthers are willing to offer him. Although he probably wants to get a contract similar to the one he got last year (1 year, 4 million), there is absolutely no way that will happen. At the same time, it is doubtful that he settles for the veteran minimum. Therefore, something must be up. There are also rumors about how the coaching staff may not want him back, as Shockey has been known to have attitude problems his entire career.
Old and injury prone
Shockey will be turning 32 later this month, and it is usually around this age when tight ends begin to show signs of slowing down. It doesn’t help that Shockey has also been plagued by injuries his entire career. It would be smart for the Panthers to move on without him and look at younger players who will come cheaper, and don’t have the injury history Shockey brings to the table.
So, what do you think Panthers fans? If Gary Barnidge continues to fail in training camp, and struggles in the pre-season, do you think the Carolina Panthers should consider re-signing Jeremy Shockey to another cheap one year deal? Why or why not? Feel free to sound off in the comments, and thanks for reading!