Giants Cut Starting Specialist, Make Final Decision on Six-Year Starter: Report

Sterling Shepard restructures Giants contract, Riley Dixon cut

Getty Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys talks to Riley Dixon #9 of the New York Giants.

The longest-tenured player on the New York Giants‘ roster is staying put. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo, the Giants have agreed to a restructured one-year deal with veteran wide receiver Sterling Shepard.

The Oklahoma product was previously under contract through 2023. Yet, per SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano, the team axed the final year off Shepard’s contract in return for him accepting a pay cut from his $8.475 million salary. This means he’ll become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2022 NFL season. The 29-year-old is coming off a torn Achilles and would have saved the team just $4.5 million if the Giants opted to cut him this offseason.

A second-round pick in 2016, Shepard has never developed into a bonafide No. 1 wide receiver — despite moonlighting as one throughout a large chunk of his time in East Rutherford. Still, he’s one of the team’s most consistent performers, hauling in at least 57 receptions in all but one of his six seasons with the organization. Aside from his 2021 campaign where he was limited to just seven games, Shepard has led the Giants in receptions every year since Odell Beckham’s departure prior to the 2019 season.

In 72 career games (70 starts), Shepard has amassed 349 receptions for 3,884 yards and 21 receiving touchdowns. He’s also accounted for 180 yards and one touchdown on 23 rushing attempts. The biggest caveat to Shepard’s resume has been his availability — or lack thereof. He hasn’t played a full season’s slate of games since his rookie year and has missed 25 games over his Giants tenure.

Giants Release Riley Dixon

In other roster news, the Giants released punter Riley Dixon on March 10, per ESPN’s Jordan Raanan.

The move ends Dixon’s tenure in New York after four seasons. In 65 career games with the Giants, Dixon averaged 45.2 yards per punt. However, his average took a dip in each of the past two seasons, culminating in a career-worst 44.4 yards per punt in 2021.

Dixon’s release saves the Giants $2.8 million vs. the cap.

Blake Martinez Next?

With GM Joe Schoen determined to clear upwards of $40 million off the books, there are bound to be more moves in a similar vein to Shepard’s in the coming weeks. The next most obvious candidate for a restructure is linebacker Blake Martinez. The prized free-agent addition two offseasons ago, Martinez is set to earn $8.425 million in 2022 and carries a cap hit of $14.025 million. Not an ideal price point for a player coming off a torn ACL and for a team so vastly stricken with financial limitations. However, cutting Martinez would cost New York $5.5 million in dead money while also gutting the roster of arguably their top defender.

“Giants LB Blake Martinez is a player to watch over the next week. Due [$8.425 million] this season (cap number: $14.025m) and coming off a torn ACL,” tweeted Garafolo on March 7. “Team is interested in retaining him but trying to rework his deal, sources say. Resolution has to work for both sides. We’ll see.”

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