For the Saints releasing Shockey was more than just a move designed to clear some “dead wait” and avoid paying too much money to a player that’s not producing the numbers conducive to his paycheck, it is however a huge vote of confidence in second year tight end Jimmy Graham.
Graham, drafted in the third round last year, immediately began to catch the eye of the coaching staff and analysts covering the Saints at training camp. Throughout the off season he impressed with his route running ability and sticky hands, it was quickly apparent he was the steal of the draft.
Last season Graham was used sparingly at the start of the season until Shockey once again could not play. As the season progressed it was apparent he was gaining the trust of the coaching staff as they began to look more and more his direction during crucial plays and red zone situations.
Graham finished the season with 31 catches for 356 yards and five touchdowns, with four of his five touchdowns coming in the final three weeks of the season.
He is the future at tight end for Saints and without question he is uber talented and loaded with potential, heck it’s arguable that he will become a better and more productive player than Jeremy Shockey ever was.
Tight end David Thomas, who is scheduled to become a free agent, is likely to benefit from Shockey’s release as well as the Saints will surely try and get him under contract and maintain the depth behind Graham. Back up Tyler Lorenzen is also scheduled for free agency but is likely to return.