Tuesday, February 22, 2011

No Shockey: Saints Cut Starting Tight End

After the New Orleans Saints front office spent months pursuing a trade with the New York Giants in 2008 to land Jeremy Shockey and swapping 2nd and 5th round picks in the 2009 draft to finally close the deal, the organization released the emotionally charged tight end on Tuesday.

Shockey, one of the more popular players on the team though not known for being overly engaging with the fans on a one-on-one basis, had his ups and downs with the Saints.

In his first season with the Black and Gold, Shockey didn’t catch a single touchdown reception and fumbled the ball twice. However in the 2009 season, Shockey caught three touchdowns and had a touchdown reception in the Super Bowl. He also made three touchdown catches in the 2010 season.

Shockey never achieved the consistent level of production with the Saints that he enjoyed with the Giants, where in his rookie season had caught 74 passes for 894 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Shockey’s best season was in 2005 in his fourth season with the Giants, when he made 65 receptions for 891 yards and 7 touchdowns.

In comparison, Shockey’s most productive season with the Saints, during the team’s Super Bowl run, was below that of five of his six seasons with the G-men. Shockey was also hobbled with injuries throughout his three years with New Orleans.

When the Saints picked tight end and fellow “U” product Jimmy Graham in the third round of the 2010 NFL draft, Shockey’s spot on the roster in the longterm became less secure.

Between his time on the bench, the large salary he would command in 2011 and Graham’s big plays as a substitute for the oft-injured tight end, many speculated that Shockey’s days in a Saints uniform were numbered shortly after the team was eliminated in the playoffs.

Even with his questionable durability, Shockey brought a level of stability to the position of tight end, which had been a revolving door of starters in recent years.

When healthy, Shockey had good hands and got the check downs the Saints offense needed to keep drives alive and their defense off the field. He represented a potent offensive weapon that kept opposing defenses guessing, which played into the hands of quarterback Drew Brees when his offensive line provided him with good protection.

Oh did I mention he added intensity to the team?

Despite his contributions to the team, Shockey simply wasn’t worth $4,000,000+ for the 2011 season. Just business, Jeremy nothing personal.

To Shockey’s credit, he had kind parting words for the Who Dats that cheered him and sported his #88 jersey, tweeting “always will remember my time in New Orleans. What a city, you all welcomed me like one of your own, and we had a great run. Onto the next chapter, the Deep Unknown.”

Shockey’s last comment is applicable to both his new free agent status and an NFL season that is up in the air.

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