By Pat Nicoloff
Jeremy Shockey may need to start wondering if he’s going to be on the Panthers, only a few months after signing on with them. He may have some connections on the team from his Hurricane days, but the team just acquired basically a younger version of him. Greg Olsen is sure to take over the number one tight end job and blocking has never been Shockey’s forte, so I think it’s safe to wonder if he’ll be able to get on the field on this run-first team.
As for Olsen, he’s a big get in Carolina. They needed to provide Cam with some sort of safety blanket and over the middle threat. Steve Smith is still big in the downfield game, but there’s only so much a 200 pound receiver can do. Olsen may get back to lining up out wide and really create some mismatches. It at least gives them a legitimate set of options for the rookie QB to work with. They’d still be smart to look for an upgrade to David Gettis at WR. Malcolm Floyd, James Jones, or Mike Sims-Walker make a lot of sense. They surely have the cash to spend, as they’ve shown with their bold moves thus far. They’re simply not improved enough offensively to think they can do much as is, unless Cam Newton is Superman in the NFL, too.
Jonathan Joseph is a huge pick-up and the Texans did a good job of leveraging Nnamdi as an apparent smokescreen. Joseph fills the void that has been wide open since Dunta Robinson took the money and ran outta town. Finally, Peyton Manning may actually have to think about which side of the field to throw the ball to, and account for a corner. Couple Joseph with the bevy of CB’s the Texans drafted and they may start looking like division favorites.
They arguably have a better offense than the Colts, after the emergence of Arian Foster. Now, under Wade Phillips, with some new weapons, it’s just a question of whether they can stay out of barn burners every week of the season. A 21-10 win is not something they’ve had the luxury of seeing lately. The possibility still hinges on Mario Williams and company being able to make the transition to a new defense. Joseph seems suited for it, it’s just everyone else that will need to be adjusting on the fly. They better hurry because the Colts come to town Week 1.
In other news, as expected all along, the Bucs finally joined the chase for Nnamdi. Looks like the Jets may not get that dream tandem after all. It appears to be just a 3 team race between them and San Francisco. The Bucs have the most money, less state taxes, and arguably one of the league’s best rosters. I’m putting my money on him donning the pewter pretty soon. Say…tomorrow. And if that were to be the case, that division gets awful interesting with New Orleans and Atlanta. Could soon be the best division in football. And Tampa still has plenty of money they’re forced to spend under new CBA rules.
Wherever Nnamdi goes and when he does, look for Carlos Rogers and Antonio Cromartie to sign quickly thereafter. They may fill the voids left by the teams that weren’t able to land the big prize. But it appears, they are waiting on him as their names have been mostly unmentioned around the rumor mill.