The season after a championship is normally a blur for major sports teams.
There are publicity events to go to, contracts to be worked out and deals to be done. All of those things can make or break a team for the coming season.
Earlier this week the New York Giants made a move that will surely impact their run as defending Super Bowl champions.
On Monday the Giants dealt tight end Jeremy Shockey to the New Orleans Saints. In return the Giants get future draft picks and the rights to the remainder of Shockey’s five year $31.2 million contract he signed in 2005.
The deal comes days after the Miami Dolphins traded defensive stalwart Jason Taylor to the Washington Redskins.
Moreover, the trade happens just over a month after defensive guru Michael Strahan announced his retirement from the Giants.
One of the aspects about the Giants you have to remember is team chemistry. It is a fragile and intangible commodity that goes and comes from year to year. The Giants had lots of it last season, especially in the playoffs.
The squad was a respectable 10-6 during the regular season. Thereafter they marched into the post-season and took down top dogs Tampa, Dallas, Green Bay and finally New England.
It remains to be seen if that chemistry will still be intact after losing Strahan and Shockey.
I personally feel trading Shockey was the right move. His ego, attitude and confrontations made headlines more than his play did.
A team aspiring for repeat glory simply can’t keep someone around who publicly bashes their quarterback, general manager and other team officials.
Also his salary was high for a player with a lot of injuries. His latest mis-step was a broken left fibula and an injured ankle in December of last year. He hasn’t played since.
The truth is Shockey has become expendable in New York. The emergence of rookie Kevin Boss towards the end of last season proved that. Then again with four other young guys vying for his position Shockey literally doesn’t fit in.
Yet the Giants will miss the production Shockey can provide. He went to the Pro Bowl in his first five seasons and during his time with the Giants posted some 371 receptions, 4,228 receiving yards and 27 touchdowns.
The Giants are hoping Boss, wide receiver Plaxico Burress and their plethora of young talent can give Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning a sense of security in his passing game.
For me the telling part of the trade will be how the Giants cope with their conference foes.
Two of the teams they will have to look out for are New Orleans and division rival Washington.
Last year the Saints just missed out on the playoffs. Their defense combined with a lacklustre offense got them a 7-9 record.
With Shockey now in the fold the Saints have a noteworthy offense that can propel quarterback Drew Brees and company back to the postseason.
With the Redskins the addition of Jason Taylor will further strengthen one of the best defensive units in the NFL.
Teams are sure to have a hard time getting points on the board against the likes of linebacker London Fletcher, cornerback Fred Smoot and defensive end Andre Carter.
At this point it’s hard for me to see the Giants winning it all again.
Granted there’s still plenty of time to orchestrate more moves. But I really feel the G-men need a proven big-play receiver/tight end to lessen the burden on the young players coming in.
To their credit the Giants are a resilient bunch with a work ethic that compensates for their overall talent level.
I think they have the heart and drive to make the playoffs.
On the other hand, they’re going to need to add more talent to beat star-studded teams like the Colts, Cowboys and Patriots on a consistent basis.
It will definitely be a tough road for the Giants this season. Like last year I feel they will again need an incredible turnaround to advance in the playoffs.
In the end the Giants were a championship squad no one saw coming. With the odds against them even greater, it’s tough for anyone to predict them as a repeat champion.