EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Super Bowl champion New York Giants removed a potential distraction by trading disgruntled tight end Jeremy Shockey to the New Orleans Saints days before the start of training camp.
The Giants will get second- and fifth-round draft choices for the oft-injured four-time Pro Bowler who started complaining about his role after the stunning Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots, a win accomplished with Shockey sidelined with a broken leg.
New York rejected a similar offer from the Saints before the NFL draft, hoping to get a starting player or a first-round draft pick.
The Giants, however, did an about-face Monday in a move focused on promoting team harmony and getting rid of an unhappy player who has been known to say too much.
"Jeremy brought great energy to the game every time he stepped on the field," Giants chief executive John Mara said. "He had a close relationship with my father from the time we drafted him, and I had a couple of long conversations with Jeremy this spring and summer. From those conversations, it was apparent to me that a fresh start was the best thing for us and for Jeremy."
The trade will reunite Shockey with Sean Payton, who was the Giants' offensive coordinator during his rookie season in New York in 2002. It was a season during which Shockey caught 74 passes for 894 yards.
"On a personal level, I was very sad to hear that my friend and teammate Jeremy Shockey has been traded, and at the same time I found it a relief to know that Jeremy was able to achieve what he desired, a new start with a new team," center Shaun O'Hara said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
"I can only wish him the best, wish him health, and hope that he is at peace with his decision," O'Hara added. "Jeremy will be missed, however, my teammates and I realize the business side of the NFL and are looking forward to training camp, and looking forward to defending our title."
Shockey started complaining about his role shortly after the Giants upset the Patriots 17-14. He had broken his leg in mid-December and missed the final week of the regular season and all four playoff games.
During that time, rookie tight end Kevin Boss stepped in and played well, though he did not block as well as Shockey. The Giants' average on runs dropped about a yard without Shockey.
Linebacker Antonio Pierce said that everyone in the Giants organization felt sad that Shockey and the Giants could not work out their differences.
"Obviously, the Giants, the front office people upstairs, weren't happy," said Pierce in an interview with Sirius Satellite Radio. "You wish he could still be a New York Giant, but that's not what either one of the parties wanted. He wanted to get away. The Giants finally dealt him."
The Giants will report to training camp at the University at Albany on Thursday.
Shockey finished third on the team last season with 57 catches for 619 yards, including a career-high 12 catches for 129 against Dallas at Giants Stadium on Nov. 11. He had at least four catches in a game eight times last season.
It was obvious that Shockey was upset during the team's minicamp in June. While teammates practiced, Shockey stayed in the locker room, much to the dismay of coach Tom Coughlin.
There also was a report that Shockey and general manager Jerry Reese got into a shouting argument during the camp.
"Jeremy is a very talented football player who always played with great enthusiasm and great effort," Coughlin said. "He was excited about playing. Jeremy always enjoyed being a physical football player and a tough football player. He's an outstanding football player who plays the game full speed and plays the game the way it was meant to be played."
Shockey said he is looking forward to this season.
"I have had a relationship with coach Payton and I appreciate what he has done as a head coach," Shockey said in a statement released by the Saints. "The Saints have a lot of weapons, starting with Drew Brees, and I look forward to joining my teammates at training camp. This will be a fun year."
The Saints report to training camp in Jackson, Miss., on Wednesday.
Besides Boss, the Giants will have four other tight ends in camp -- Michael Matthews, Darcy Johnson, Jerome Collins and rookie Eric Butler.
"We have five young kids who are all vying for the position," Coughlin said. "The tight end position will be a very competitive position in training camp."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press