The New York Giants rewarded their fourth-year wide receiver Sterling Shepard on Wednesday by giving him four-year, $41 million contract extension.

Jason Leach

Prior to Wednesday, New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard must have felt some uneasiness on where he stood with the franchise.

He was entering the last year of his contract, one of his closest teammates, Odell Beckham Jr., was traded to the Cleveland Browns last month, and he was one of the few holdovers from the Jerry Reese era.

In addition, there were rumors that he could be part of a trade that included the Giants acquiring quarterback Josh Rosen from the Arizona Cardinals.

But on Wednesday, the Giants showed that the 26-year-old Shepard is not only part of their plans for 2019, but for years to come when they gave him a four-year, $41 million contract extension in which $21.3 million will be guaranteed as per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Giving Shepard an extension was a no-brainer for the Giants. Shepard is hard-worker and one of the most respected players on the team. This also puts Reese-acquired players at ease, knowing that general manager Dave Gettleman doesn’t intend to part ways with the entire collection.

Shepard was the Giants second-round pick in 2016 (40th overall) and he helped the team make the playoffs for the first time since Super Bowl 46 by catching 65 receptions for 683 yards and eight touchdowns.

In his three seasons with Big Blue, Shepard has caught 190 passes for 2,286 yards and 14 touchdowns.

He has shown that he’s a quick and elusive route runner, and although the 5-foot-10 Shepard primarily works in the slot, he can make plays on the outside as well.

Various injuries caused Shepard to miss five games in 2017, but he rebounded to have his best season in 2018. Shepard set career highs in receptions (66), yards (872), and in average yards per reception (13.2) this past campaign.

He is a dependable receiver that Eli Manning can depend on. It was Shepard that Manning went to for the game-winning three-yard touchdown with 53 seconds remaining in the Giants 27-23 Week 10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.

Not only is Shepard a reliable pass catcher, but he’s also an exceptional downfield blocker. If you look at some of Saquon Barkley long runs, you’ll often witness Shepard making a key block downfield.

Wide receiver’s coach Tyke Tolbert said this past season that he needs his receivers to make plays even when they don’t have the ball and Shepard has shown that he can do that.

A hard working unselfish player has always been the type of player that Giants brash has always sought after.

With the departure of Beckham, Shepard is poised to have his biggest season yet. He may not be the number one receiving option as that could go to either tight end Evan Engram or newly acquired Golden Tate, but he’ll have more than the 107 targets he received last season and could be poised for his first 1,000-yard season.

In the final four games of last season that OBJ missed, Shepard was targeted 31 times, caught 14 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown.

Via the Sterling Shepard extension, the New York Giants front office has shown that they believe he is going to be a pivotal player in turning the franchise’s fortunes around.

Jason's first love was football while growing up in northern New Jersey. For the past three years, he has covered the New York Giants, as well as several boxing events along the East Coast.