What's the longterm future of Jeremy Shockey with the New Orleans Saints?

Q: After reading your 10-step program, I have a question for the mailbag. Could you please talk about Shockey's blocking ability compared to Thomas and/or Graham. I haven't paid particular attention to it, but it could be a reason to keep Shockey around. Catches and yards aren't everything for a tight end, especially for a team that needs to improve the running game. Andrew, Uptown.

A: Shockey is a solid blocker but certainly nothing special. I certainly wouldn't characterize blocking as one of his strengths. In fact, from the tape I have watched, Thomas is a much better and more willing blocker and, along with reserve tackle Zach Strief, is usually the tight end called upon when the team needs a blocking assignment at the position. Regardless, Shockey is not being paid $4.5 million to block. That's elite tight end money and at this stage of his career Shockey is no longer an elite tight end. If the Saints really need a blocking tight end, they can find one in the draft or free agency for a fraction of the salary they are paying Shockey. Jimmy Graham is clearly a budding star at the position. With a full offseason of development, he should win the starting job next season. If David Thomas is re-signed -- and I think he will be - then Shockey is expendable although I do think he could be a candidate to return at a restructured deal.

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