Sponsored Post: This post is presented by Sprint. Bringing you the first wireless 4G network from a national carrier. Only on the Now Network.
This is the fifth edition (of six) of this series that we'll be continuing through the end of June, highlighting game-changing moves that have occurred since the end of last season. The first one was about keeping KR Joshua Cribbs a member of the Browns; the second one was about the new look to the secondary this year; the third one was about the removal of quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson; and the fourth one was about the Browns allowing head coach Eric Mangini to stay in charge for another season.
What's on tap for this week?
Game-Changing Offseason Move #5: Signing TE Ben Watson
This week, we take a look at the importance of signing tight end Ben Watson. Since we're also in the middle of our "quarterback" training camp preview session, extra emphasis will be placed on the benefit that Watson's presence can have on Jake Delhomme.
- With the Panthers, Delhomme never really had a serious receiving threat at the tight end position. Early in his career with the Panthers, the tight ends that he threw to were players like Kris Mangum and Michael Gaines. The Panthers invested a fifth-round pick in tight end Jeff King in 2006, but he didn't become a starter until the 2007 season.
- That was the year where Delhomme started the season hot but suffered a season-ending injury in Week 3. One of Delhomme's favorite targets during the early stretch though was King. In their three games together, King had 13 catches for 130 yards and 1 touchdown. The following year, with Muhsin Muhammed returning to the Panthers, the number of passes King saw some his way dropped as he focused more on becoming a blocker.
- If I had to bet, I'd imagine that Delhomme will have the easiest time building chemistry with Watson right from the get-go. Although Watson is used to catching passes from the reliable Tom Brady, I can't imagine a shift to Delhomme will affect Watson too much. He used to have more of a presence in the Patriots offense, but shifted to more of a red-zone threat over the past couple of years.
- Besides Steve Smith, the No. 2 receiver that Delhomme usually seemed to have success with were the bigger receivers who also had some speed. I don't think it's a coincidence that two of the Panthers' most successful years under Delhomme came when Muhsin Muhammed was with the team (he had briefly left them to join the Chicago Bears, and then returned later on). Watson isn't lights-out fast, but he can still put the burners on. If Delhomme finds one receiver that he can really connect with between Brian Robiskie, Mohamed Massaquoi, and Chansi Stuckey, then I think Watson will slip right into the role of being the No. 2 threat in the passing game.
- Prediction: Watson will finish the season second in receptions.
Based on my first five game-changing articles and who I haven't highlighted yet, I'm sure you can predict what the final one of the series will be about.