OK, raise your hand if you think the Minnesota Vikings were absolutely insane to give Visanthe Shiancoe $18 million. Yes, you're certainly not alone. As far as tight ends go, Shank was a heck of a nice guy. Heck if Shank's worth that much, based on my high school career alone, I must be good for a least a half-mil. Seriously, good for him that he got paid. But this just shows why the free agent market has become such a joke – and why GM Jerry Reese should not be criticized for showing prudence this offseason. All joking aside, Shiancoe was New York's second tight end, a position that is now wide open as camp rapidly approaches.
Can Jeremy go it alone?
Is it worth forcing a second tight end on the field if said TE is not worthy of being considered among the offense's best 11? That's a question that the Giants will need at least a full training camp to answer. Jeremy Shockey returns and he looks better than ever. He also sounds like he's got a little extra to prove this season. Perhaps with Barber retired, some other players will step up and put even a little more pressure on their own shoulders. Shockey, who already demands perfection from himself, is certainly a strong candidate to be one of those guys. Thankfully the Giants boast a strong crop of receivers because without any other TE that would really scare defenses – at least yet – Shockey will have the usual target on his back. The key for him is to stay as healthy as possible. He'll be the first to admit that he's going to get banged up just due to his style of play. But the difference between banged up and sidelined will go a long way toward determining what kind of season the Giants are going to have.
How quickly can Boss develop?
The Giants are very excited about fifth-round pick Kevin Boss. After watching him throughout the offseason, we can see why. He's super smooth in both route-running and receiving and at 6-6, 252, Boss sure gives Eli Manning quite a large target. The Giants are hoping he can fill out his lanky frame some and that with an extra 15-20 pounds and some hard work, he could become a dependable blocker. Actually if he can contribute as much as expected offensively, they probably wouldn't mind if he only became an average blocker. New York is hopeful that someone among the mix of Darcy Johnson, Charles Davis, Michael Matthews and Rodney Burgess can emerge as a solid blocking tight end. If not, expect to see guard Rich Seubert lined up often at tight end and in the backfield again this season.
Will they be better in '07?
This is a tough one. While Shiancoe's departure is no great loss, the Giants really don't have anyone that can serve as a dependable replacement, at least immediately. New York is hopeful that Boss will catch on quickly and that one of the young guys (our guess is Matthews) will quickly emerge from a blocking standpoint. However, the success of this position is based almost entirely on the success of Shockey. And there's no reason to think he's not headed toward yet another Pro Bowl season.
Strength of unit: Jeremy Shockey remains one of the game's best two-way tight ends.
Weakness of unit: Blocking tight ends coming out of college have gone the way of the dinosaur. The Giants are hoping even one can show just a little ability.
Key additions: Kevin Boss. The Giants were surprised the Western Oregon stud was there in the fifth round and barely hesitated before selecting him.
Key losses: None, unless you consider Visanthe Shiancoe's experience.
Darkhorse: Charles Davis. He showed some ability over in NFL Europa and might just catch some eyes up in Albany.
On the spot: Darcy Johnson. With Shiancoe gone, Johnson becomes the heir apparent at reserve tight end. However, Boss and others are right on his heels.
Lucky 7: Jeremy Shockey has caught seven touchdown passes each of the last two seasons. He and the Giants are both hoping this is the year he reaches double figures in end zone trips.
Go long: Shockey's run-after-catch numbers dropped last season. His longest reception went for only 25 yards, which is the lowest long gain he's had in a season since he joined the Giants. He posted a 59-yard gain in 2005, as well as a 46-yarder in ‘03.
There's no doubt that Kevin Boss can catch…