Jeremy Shockey was drafted with the 14th pick of the 2002 NFL draft with enormous expectations. Fans fell in love with his athletic and rugged style of play, reminiscent of Mark Bavaro.
In his first year, Shockey did not disappoint, catching 74 passes for 894 yards and two touchdowns, and was named the Pepsi Rookie of the Year.
With one of the best rookie seasons for a tight end, Shockey was poised to become one of the all-time great Giants. The sky was the limit for the talented young tight end, and he won fans over with his smash mouth style of play, even if he did have the occasional lapse in judgment.
But eight seasons into his pro career, Shockey has never played a full season, nor has he ever topped the reception or yardage totals from his rookie season.
After earning a Super Bowl ring, while on the injured reserve, Shockey seemingly forced the Giants' hand, and was traded to the New Orleans Saints for two draft picks (used on Clint Sintim and Rhett Bomar). Shockey claimed he was unhappy that the team made him sit in a press box during the Super Bowl, while lower profile players on the IR watched the game from the sideline.
But his unhappiness with the Giants went deeper than his treatment during the Super Bowl.
Throughout his Giants career, when things were not going well statistically for him, fans often heard rumblings that Shockey was unhappy with his role in the offense. As Keyshawn Johnson would put it, Shockey wanted the Giants to "give him the damn ball."
According to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, "Shockey hasn't commented publicly on the subject, though he has told many people that he is frustrated with his role in the offense."
Statistically speaking, Shockey has been involved in the Saints' offense far less than he was during his unhappy years in the Giants' offense.
After two years and 25 games played in New Orleans, Jeremy Shockey's totals are:
98 receptions, 1,052 yards, three touchdowns.
Compare those numbers to his back-to-back season lows in each category as a Giant: 109 receptions, 1,201 yards, four touchdowns.
In each respective category, Shockey has never had as low an output in back-to-back seasons as a Giant as he has had in his first two seasons in New Orleans' high powered offense.
For argument's sake, let's look at his stats from his final two seasons (29 games) with the Giants: 123 receptions, 1,242 yards, 10 touchdowns.
These numbers blow his statistics as a Saint out of the water.
Finally, his per-game statistics for each team:
Giants: 4.5 receptions, 50.9 yards, .33 TD
Saints: 3.9 receptions, 42.1 yards, .12 TD
Which, over a full 16 game season, would come out to:
Giants: 72 receptions, 814 yards, five touchdowns
Saints: 62 receptions, 674 yards, two touchdowns
Seems to me like he was featured in the Giants' offense just fine.
Whereas he was usually Eli Manning's second or third target, he's now in an offense with other talented receivers that all must share the load. Although he believed he was leaving a supporting role on Broadway for a featuring role on the Bayou, he has often found himself overshadowed in the passing game by Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson, Lance Moore, and Reggie Bush.
But if he had stayed in New York, where Eli Manning has developed into a great quarterback (since Shockey's departure), there's a good chance he would have been featured in the improved passing offense more than ever before.
Shockey was targeted 68 times this season by Drew Brees. Ironically, his Giants replacement Kevin Boss was targeted 69 times by Eli Manning. The two players had comparable numbers this year:
Shockey (14th pick in 2002): 48 receptions, 569 yards, three touchdowns
Boss (153rd pick in 2007): 42 receptions, 567 yards, five touchdowns
Kevin Boss is a good tight end, and he could very well develop into a great receiver, but he does not have the polished receiving skill that Shockey currently develops. The fact that he was able to put up almost identical numbers to Shockey's in a less potent passing offense leads me to believe that, had Shockey still been playing tight end for the Giants instead of Boss, he would have been an integral part of the offense.
Seems like Shockey would have gotten just what he wanted if he had stuck around a couple years, and maybe he could have helped the Giants reach the playoffs for a fifth consecutive year.
Obviously stats are not everything; winning a Super Bowl is the end goal. If Shockey's main goal is to win a Super Bowl, then he may get the last laugh.
But by most accounts, Shockey's biggest beef with the Giants was his role in the offense, something that has remained more or less the same, if not worse, despite the move to a new team.
Whether Shockey can win a championship with the Saints has yet to be determined. But with two regular seasons in the books, it appears that his desire to move to an offense that featured him more often was not fulfilled.