By David Song, September 24 2015 —
The 2015–16 NFL season is underway and a few of the league’s top clubs will have different looks as a number of star players have donned new jerseys.
With the NFL driven by its marquee stars at every position, the prospect of these top talents switching loyalties brings a significant power shift. The new season could result in a very different playoff picture once these newly acquired stars have settled in.
One of the biggest names on the list of transfers is tight-end Jimmy Graham. The 6’7” 265-pounder spent the first five years of his career with the New Orleans Saints, where he earned a Pro Bowl nomination and put up more than 1,200 receiving yards on two separate occasions. Graham has now moved on from the dynamic duo he formed with veteran Saints quarterback Drew Brees, opting to join the cagey and quick-footed Russell Wilson and his Seattle Seahawks. At 28 years old, Graham provides his new squad with the one thing they formerly lacked — an elite, big-bodied receiver capable of dominating the red zone.
As long as Graham stays healthy, he and star running back Marshawn Lynch are poised to form one of the league’s most dangerous offensive duos. With the Seahawks already boasting an elite quarterback and one of the best running backs in the game, Graham’s tremendous combination of size, skill and athleticism should allow their offence to reach a new level. The Seahawks were already one of the sport’s top organizations — evidenced by their two back-to-back Super Bowl appearances — and with Graham on board, they should have all the tools needed to challenge for the Super Bowl once again.
Another big-bodied receiver, wideout Brandon Marshall, has joined the New York Jets after three years with the Chicago Bears. Despite the inconsistent accuracy of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, Marshall racked up 1,508 and 1,295 receiving yards in his first two seasons in Chicago, demonstrating his exceptional skill. Marshall can also use his 6’4” 230-pound frame to fight for extra yards after the catch — adding yet another weapon to his already well-rounded receiving skillset.
In his first game as a Jet, Marshall racked up 62 receiving yards and a highlight-reel touchdown where he outfought Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden for the ball. Haden, who has quite a bit of experience covering bigger, stronger receivers, was unable to shut down Marshall, demonstrating that the 31-year-old wideout has plenty left in the tank. Although New York’s Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t an elite quarterback and Geno Smith is still a work in progress, Marshall provides the club with an explosive weapon to help take their passing game to a new level.
Veteran running back Frank Gore, who topped 1,000 rushing yards eight times with the San Francisco 49ers, is now an Indianapolis Colt. Gore seemed uncomfortable in his new environment during Week One, rushing eight times for only 31 yards and no touchdowns. Despite his age, the 32-year-old Gore is still a powerful and experienced runner. If he can find his groove, the Colts’ offense could post some significant numbers this season. They could potentially boast a strong running game to supplement the elite passing game of young quarterback Andrew Luck, allowing them to finally take the next step in their ascension to contender status.