Sterling Shepard is remaining in East Rutherford.
The Giants are retaining their longest-tenured active player, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
Wide receiver Sterling Shepard and the team that drafted him in 2016 have agreed to a new restructured contract. While the financial details of the new deal have yet to be reported, it’s most certainly a contract that includes a cap-friendly pay cut.
According to Jordan Raanan of ESPN, the new deal lets Shepard hit free agency in 2023 (instead of 2024, when the original extension was to expire).
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 10, 2022
WR Sterling Shepard is returning on a reworked one-year deal with the Giants, per source. Team’s longest-tenured player wanted to return. Was previously signed through 2023.
(@MikeGarafolo first on Shepard returning)
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) March 10, 2022
Shepard had signed a four-year, $41 million extension following the 2018 campaign, his third NFL season. But due to consistent health issues (he’s missed games each of the last three years, including 10 in 2021), the fact he’s coming off a torn Achilles sustained in December, and a simple lack of production, his value has declined.
Sterling averaged 5.1 receptions per game in 2021 (his lowest average since 2018) to go with 52.3 receiving yards per game (his lowest average since his 2016 rookie campaign).
Restructure instead of release?
I was for the release of Shepard, since it would’ve cleared a little over $4.5 million in cap space for 2022 (what would’ve been a beneficial move considering the Giants were $7.45 million over the cap, per Spotrac).
But if keeping Shepard on a new deal is still going to clear cap room, and all parties were fine with it, then so be it. The injuries are obviously problematic, but when healthy, Shepard can at least be another passing-game target for quarterback Daniel Jones. Not to mention, Shepard and Jones have already developed a crucial rapport due to their experience playing with one another since 2019.
Expect Shepard to have the same type of role in 2022, barring another injury. He’ll be a WR3 type of target behind Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney.
General manager Joe Schoen still needs to make other cap-friendly moves though. These include the potential releasing of linebacker Blake Martinez and possible trading of both running back Saquon Barkley and cornerback James Bradberry.
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