The New Orleans Saints, who have been very quiet so far this offseason (except for when the topic is where coach Sean Payton is living), made some pretty major news Tuesday afternoon. They released Jeremy Shockey.
We could make some bad pun about this being “shocking’’ but this move really isn’t a surprise. Here’s why:
Age and durability. Shockey will be 31 before the season starts. Injuries have been an issue throughout his career, and he’s never played a full 16-game season. In his three seasons in New Orleans, Shockey missed eight games with various injuries. He’s not getting any younger, and his durability is likely to suffer even more in the future.
Money. The Saints got what they wanted out of the deal in which they traded for Shockey back in 2008. He helped them win a Super Bowl, but never made a huge impact. Headed into the final year of Shockey’s contract, this move makes total financial sense. Shockey was to count $4.7 million against this year’s salary cap. He was to make $4.2 million in base salary and $500,000 more on a reporting bonus for showing up for training camp. But the Saints won’t have to pay a penny of that, and Shockey won’t cost them anything against the salary cap because his signing-bonus prorations were absorbed in earlier years.
The new kid in town. From a pure football standpoint, Shockey is very replaceable, and that factored into this decision. Jimmy Graham emerged quickly as a rookie last season and has tremendous upside. He can take over Shockey’s role as a pass-catching tight end, and eventually could be better at that than Shockey ever was. The Saints also are likely to keep David Thomas in a rotation with Graham. Thomas is a solid blocker and a dependable receiver.
“Jeremy played an important role in helping our team bring a Super Bowl championship to New Orleans," said Payton, an assistant in New York when Shockey first joined the Giants. "He contributed to the success of our offense, both as a pass-catcher and run blocker, and we’re appreciative of his efforts."