Panthers sign Shockey

CHARLOTTE - The Panthers have signed Jeremy Shockey, one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL over the last decade, the team announced Thursday.

Shockey, who was released by the New Orleans Saints on Feb. 22, is a four-time Pro Bowl selection who ranks fourth among active tight ends in both receptions with 510 and receiving yards with 5,688. He also has caught at least one pass in 121 consecutive games played, the second-longest current streak among tight ends.

"We are very pleased to add Jeremy to our football team," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "He is a highly competitive player with a good skill set and a wealth of experience. He should make a solid contribution to our offense."

Rivera has emphasized the importance of having a pass-catching tight end. The Panthers' tight end trio of Dante Rosario, Jeff King and Gary Barnidge combined for 51 receptions for 385 yards and two touchdowns for the league's last-ranked pass offense in 2010.

Shockey had the quietest statistical season of his nine-year NFL career in 2010, but he still produced 41 receptions for 408 yards and three touchdowns as a part of a tight end trio in New Orleans that combined to catch 105 balls for the NFL's third-ranked pass offense.

The move reunites Shockey with Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, who was offensive coordinator at the University of Miami in 2001 when Shockey was one of three finalists for the John Mackey Award, given annually to college football's top tight end.

The New York Giants picked Shockey in the first round of the 2002 draft, and he made his first Pro Bowl that year after recording the second-best numbers for a rookie tight end in NFL history with 74 catches for 894 yards.

Shockey earned Pro Bowl honors in four of his first five years with the Giants. After his sixth season in New York, during which time he caught at least 48 passes for 500-plus yards each season, the Saints traded for Shockey.

At the end of the 2009 season, Shockey helped the Saints to their first Super Bowl title, catching a touchdown pass that put New Orleans ahead of the Indianapolis Colts for good in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIV. It was the second ring for Shockey, who won Super Bowl XLII in his final season with the Giants.

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