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The trade of tight end Jeremy Shockey leaves a big hole on the Giants' depth chart.


Tight end Jeremy Shockey fits in with New Orleans as well as beignets.

Defensive end Jason Taylor becomes Washington’s newest monument.

Each leaves a hole in the city he vacated that no second-round pick can replace this season.

Without Shockey, the Giants are expected to start last year’s fifth-round pick Kevin Boss, who produced a crucial 45-yard reception during New York’s Super Bowl win over New England.

Yet, as reliable as Boss was in the postseason, he caught only nine passes for 118 yards last season. Behind Boss is undrafted free agent Mike Matthews, who caught six passes for 28 yards last year. And behind Matthews are undrafted free agents Darcy Johnson and Jerome Collins. It’s not as if New York now has an embarrassment of riches at the position.

New York could still opt to sign another tight end. The list of available veterans includes former Patriot Kyle Brady, former Viking Jermaine Wiggins and former Bronco Stephen Alexander.

But without Shockey, New York lacks the depth it once had at the position.

Similarly, without Taylor, Miami is one big man short at defensive end. But at least the Dolphins addressed the position in the draft; the Giants didn’t.

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Rookie Phillip Merling is one of a handful of candidates who may assume the role vacated by Jason Taylor.

Back in April, the Dolphins drafted Clemson defensive end Phillip Merling with the 32nd overall pick in the second round and Hampton defensive end Kendall Langford with the 66th overall pick in the third round. Miami doesn’t have an NFL Defensive-Player-of-the-Year replacement, but it does have options.

Merling was once projected as a top 10 pick until he suffered a sports hernia injury that required surgery this winter. Langford is an intense player with skills suited to Miami’s 3-4 defense. Plus, Miami also has last year’s pricey free-agent acquisition Joey Porter to plug in as well.

Neither Shockey nor Taylor is going to be easy to replace. But both teams can start trying with the extra second-round picks each has in 2009.

A no-show

When Baltimore’s veterans report to training camp Wednesday, at least one Raven will be missing.

Baltimore’s franchise defensive end/linebacker Terrell Suggs is not planning to report to training camp until after the Ravens wrap up the preseason Aug. 28 against Atlanta. Not having signed his $8.5 million franchise tender, Suggs is not contractually obligated to be there -- and he won’t be.

By staying away, Suggs intends to limit his risk of injury. He already has hired a private defensive line technique coach and will try to simulate his own private version of training camp, staying in the best shape he possibly can.

But the Ravens will have to figure out how to make do without Suggs this summer, something they hope they won’t have to do again next season.

Another Shockey-Taylor tie

In a 24-hour period, the Dolphins traded Taylor and the Giants Shockey. But there was a time not long ago when the Dolphins and Giants were discussing a trade that would have sent Taylor to New York and Shockey to Miami.

Each team debated the merits of the deal, yet in the end, each found what it felt was a more appealing offer -- Miami from Washington, New York from New Orleans.

Still, it would have been incredibly intriguing to see Miami executive vice president-football operations Bill Parcells trade for the tight end who once called Bill Parcells “the homo” in New York magazine. Shockey later denied using the phrase, but New York magazine stood by its story.

Taylor made

Now that Taylor is in Washington, his team will be matched up twice a year against his longtime Miami teammate and brother-in-law, Zach Thomas, who signed with Dallas last winter.

Washington and Dallas are scheduled to play Sept. 28, and again on Nov. 16. After spending 11 years together in Miami, becoming two of the greatest players in Dolphins franchise history, Taylor and Thomas now will take part in one of football’s top rivalries. It adds that much flavor to a rivalry that doesn’t need any more.

First-round signing status
Only six of the 31 first-round picks are signed.
First-round signings
No. Player Team Deal
1 Jake Long Dolphins 5 years, $57.5M
2 Chris Long Rams 6 years, $56.5M
3 Matt Ryan Falcons 6 years, $72M
4 Darren McFadden Raiders 6 years, $60M
18 Joe Flacco Ravens 5 years, $30M
30 Dustin Keller Jets 5 years, $12M
» Signing status of first-round picks

On the dotted line

Just because picks No. 1 through No. 4 are now signed -- offensive tackle Jake Long, defensive end Chris Long, quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Darren McFadden -– do not expect a flurry of signings with the rest of the top 10 picks.

Teams and agents for most of the other top 10 picks reported little progress Monday. It could be a while before players such as Kansas City’s Glenn Dorsey, New York’s Vernon Gholston, New Orleans' Sedrick Ellis and other top picks are signed.

It's also fitting that the Longs -- no relation -- share the same last name. They share virtually the same contract. The only difference is that the contract for Chris Long, the No. 2 overall pick, is worth $1 million less in year five than Jake Long’s. Other than that, the contracts are all but identical.

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