New Orleans Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey won’t follow in T.O.’s footsteps: Saints mailbag

Posted by Mike Triplett, The Times-Picayune April 01, 2009 2:40PM

As promised, here’s part two of today’s two-session mailbag. Keep the questions coming, and be sure to stop in for tomorrow’s chat at 11:30 a.m. if you get the chance.

Q: A lot has been made recently about Terrell Owens missing voluntary workouts when he has a personal trainer. Will Jeremy Shockey do the same thing with the Saints this year and not attend voluntary workouts? If you don’t know then when does voluntary work-outs for the Saints start to monitor that situation? Stephen LeCompte, Houston, TX

A: You’ll be happy to know, Stephen, that Shockey did report to the Saints’ offseason conditioning program, which began on Monday. And, really, I don’t expect Shockey to be anything like Terrell Owens this offseason. He’s committed to making things work in New Orleans – where else would he have it better than here? – and he’s determined to put last year’s disappointing season behind him. I don’t know how much time he’ll spend in New Orleans vs. Miami, where he has always worked out in past offseasons. But he said after last season that he plans to spend more time at the team’s practice facility than ever before. Here’s the whole quote: “I’m going to do a lot of work with Drew. I’m going to be here working with these guys. I haven’t done that in five or six years, and I’m not saying that I didn’t make the right decision in the past. Just here, I think it would benefit myself and the team a lot more than it would if I was playing, doing the one up in New York. So I’m going to still work out in Miami, that’s the normal plan, but really show my face and come around here a lot more than I’ve ever done in my whole career.”
Q: I was surprised that the Saints cut ties with Mike McKenzie, rather than simply re-working his contract. I realize the team needed some cap relief and McKenzie is coming off two serious injuries in two consecutive years, but given his past performance at a high level and the Saints’ need at cornerback (even with the signing of Jabari Greer), I would have expected the team to at least keep him around through the offseason and perhaps training camp before deciding that he is not in their future plans. Do you agree that it seems a little premature to have made that decision now, before he is completely rehabbed? Do you have any indication that the Saints attempted to rework his deal but McKenzie would not go along? Todd Owers, Metairie, La.

A: I didn’t really have a problem with the decision, Todd. I think McKenzie probably has a little gas left in the tank, but he’s 32 and the injuries have definitely slowed him down a little bit. This reminds me of the Saints’ decision to stick with Deuce McAllister last year. Sometimes it might be better to just cut ties and move on with the younger players rather than straddle the fence. The Saints are very high on their top three corners – Jabari Greer, Tracy Porter and Randall Gay. And they like backup Leigh Torrence, who will also contribute in special teams. … I’m not sure if/where Jason David fits in. But clearly, McKenzie had become expendable. I’m not sure how much of a discount he was willing to offer the Saints to stay for another year. I know early in the offseason, they seemed interested in keeping him around for a while at a discounted price to see how well he was progressing from a health standpoint. But I think that changed after they signed Greer.

Q: There’s been a lot of speculation/chatter on the fan sites regarding a trade of Lance Moore for LenDale White. Any talk like this from the Saints’ brain trust? Chris Lee, New York, N.Y.

A: Sorry Chris, but that sounds like more of a fantasy football trade than a real-life one. But this is probably a good time to clear up Moore’s status with the Saints one more time since there seems to be so much confusion about the restricted free agent process. … The Saints aren’t “shopping” Lance Moore. They don’t want to trade him, they don’t want to lose him, and the chances of him leaving New Orleans are extremely, extremely slim. True, they would get a second-round pick as compensation if Moore signed with another team and the Saints chose not to match the offer. That’s a protection clause designed to make it difficult for restricted free agents to switch teams – much like the franchise tag with veteran players. But that doesn’t mean the Saints WANT that second-round pick. They’d rather keep Moore, and they’ll probably work on a long-term extension with him at some point later this summer. Sean Payton said the other day that he envisions Moore being with the Saints for years to come. … So do I.
Q: I like the moves of getting rid of dead weight by cutting injured players, but we have underachieving players in Shanle LB and David CB. With all the good vets out there like Cato June LB and Ken Lucas CB why don’t we cut some more dead weight and do what Payton wants to do so desperately, get a big back in the draft or free agency and shore up the D by getting some quality defensive players like the players above? What do you think will happen and if we do nothing do you feel that Gregg Williams can get the current players to play great D? Craig, Dallas Tx

A: Ah, yes. No mailbag or chat would be complete without an anti-Shanle question. Thanks for filling today’s quota, Craig. … Seriously, though, I think it’s obvious that there are better outside linebackers in the NFL than Shanle. And I personally think the Saints’ best chance of upgrading their defense through the draft is to identify an athletic, dynamic difference-maker at that position who can rush the passer and cover tight ends. But Shanle isn’t “dead weight.” He’s a nice, solid player who has earned the trust of the coaching staff and the front office, and I think he had a pretty underrated solid season last year. Clearly, the Saints have not identified someone they feel is an upgrade over Shanle to this point – at least not at the right price tag. I know they kicked the tires on Pro Bowler Lance Briggs a year ago but didn’t want to break the bank for him. I don’t think Cato June is a great fit for their defensive system. And obviously Tampa Bay wasn’t too thrilled with June, since they released him despite having enough money to burn in free agency this year. … If the Saints think there’s someone better out there, they’ll make the switch – and don’t forget about Dan Morgan, who will compete at that spot this year. The Saints have proven that they’re willing to cut ties with underachieving veterans if they see an upgrade on the open market. Remember, they haven’t just dumped injured players this offseason like McAllister and McKenzie. They also dumped fullback Mike Karney and safety Kevin Kaesviharn, replacing them with guys they liked better in free agency. … As for Jason David, I still think he might end up getting released at some point. But I think he has enough potential that they’d at least like to take a look at him in new coordinator Gregg Williams’ system to see if it’s a better fit for him. … And yes, I think Williams will make a big difference with the current personnel. I feel like he’ll take some more chances, get more pressure on quarterbacks and force more turnovers. Even if the Saints keep giving up big plays from time to time, they can counteract that by making more big plays and giving the ball back to the offense.

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