The Super Bowl Champion New York Giants traded high-profile tight end Jeremy Shockey to the New Orleans Saints for a pair of draft picks on Monday. The Pro Bowl player will return to Wembley in 2008 after featuring in the first International Series contest at the stadium in 2007.
The Giants will get second and fifth-round picks in the 2009 draft. The deal must be approved by the league and is contingent on Shockey passing a physical.
The deal reunites Shockey with Saints' coach Sean Payton, who was the Giants' offensive coordinator in 2002, when Shockey was Rookie of the Year.
"I have had a relationship with coach Payton and I appreciate what he has done as a head coach," Shockey said in a statement released by the Saints. "The Saints have a lot of weapons starting with Drew Brees and I look forward to joining my teammates at training camp. This will be a fun year."
The Saints report to training camp in Jackson, Miss., on Wednesday with several other tight ends on the roster, including last year's starter, Eric Johnson, along with Billy Miller and Mark Campbell.
Shockey, a four-time Pro Bowl player who spent six seasons with the Giants, broke his leg against the Redskins in Week 16.
He is known for his offensive ability more than his blocking, and was unhappy even before the injury—he was asked to block in addition to catch. Once hurt, he didn't like the fact that much was made of the Giants winning with rookie Kevin Boss in his place.
"Jeremy brought great energy to the game every time he stepped on the field," said Giants team president John Mara, son of the late Wellington Mara, a longtime owner of the team. "He had a close relationship with my father from the time we drafted him, and I had a couple of long conversations with Jeremy this spring and summer. From those conversations, it was apparent to me that a fresh start was the best thing for us and for Jeremy."
The Giants, a proven winner without Shockey in the lineup, cut ties with a player who provided plenty of excitement on the field and plenty of distractions off it—once throwing a cup of ice in the stands during a playoff game in San Francisco, criticizing Giants fans for leaving a game early, blaming Giants coach Tom Coughlin's staff for a loss in 2006 or skipping voluntary team workouts in favor of an off-season program run by his agent.
The Giants also unload the remainder of a five-year, $31.2 million contract extension that Shockey signed in 2005.
Shockey had 371 catches for 4,228 yards and 27 touchdowns with the Giants. He was drafted out of Miami with the 14th overall pick in the 2002 draft.
The Saints have been seeking a tight end who is a downfield threat. Eric Johnson, who started 12 games for the Saints last season, caught 48 passes for 378 yards and two touchdowns.
"Jeremy is a player that we are excited to have on our roster. He is someone I am familiar with," Payton said. "He brings a skill set to the position that I feel will be a tremendous benefit to our offense."
The Saints' offense has been among the best in the NFL during Payton's first two seasons as coach, with Brees eclipsing 4,000 yards passing in each of them.
The hope of New Orleans is that Shockey's addition as a receiving threat, when combined with receiver Marques Colston and Reggie Bush coming out of the backfield or lining up in the slot, will give Brees the options he needs to move the ball, no matter what opposing defenses attempt.
Shockey's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, called last season a difficult one for his client, who was looking for a change of scenery.
"He's been one of the most successful tight ends in NFL history, but now I think he's going to be more prolific in the Saints' offense," Rosenhaus said. "I don't think Jeremy could ask for a better situation."