Longest-Tenured Giant ‘Could Change Teams,’ per NFL Analyst

Sterling Shepard floated as a cut or trade candidate

Getty Sterling Shepard #87 of the New York Giants looks on while stretching during warmups before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The ever-important date of June 1st has come and gone, meaning some notable names across the NFL or bound to be on the move, ie: a cut or traded. In layman’s terms, the post-June 1 designation allows teams to spread their “dead money” hit across two seasons rather than one for a player who has been removed from their roster — this includes trades.

A big domino has already fallen, as the Atlanta Falcons have saved $15.5 million in dead money in 2021 by shipping Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans in a post-June 1 deal. Other notable names are sure to follow, with players such as Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Washington safety Landon Collins as primary names to keep an eye on.

Another quality player who could be potentially switching teams is New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Labeled a “NFL post-June 1 cut and trade candidates to watch” by Pro Football Network’s Ben Rolfe, moving on from the 28-year-old would save the G-Men $4 million.

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Shepard on His Way Out?

After ranking within the bottom half of the league in passing offense for each of the past two seasons, the Giants made it a priority to bolster their receiving corps this offseason. From new additions such as Kenny Golladay, John Ross and Kadarius Toney to cutting Golden Tate, Daniel Jones’ arsenal of weapons will surely look different in 2021. With that said, we still believe there’s enough room for a familiar face.

Selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Shepard is the longest-tenured player on the roster and the lone Giant to be part of the franchise’s most recent playoff team (2016). He’s a veteran presence in the locker room and a highly serviceable second-option to a tremendous third-option in the passing game.

The team’s leader in receptions in back-to-back years, there’s a strong chance that we could see the best Shepard has to offer this coming season, as he’ll finally be able to operate in a role more suited to his skillset.

Now, is the writing on the wall for Shepard’s eventual exit from East Rutherford? More than likely. With that said, chances are that exit doesn’t happen until 2022, when the Giants have a potential out from under his contract (via Spotrac). This will allow the team time to evaluate whether or not Toney is ready to step into a larger go-to role in the offense. It will also give Shepard an opportunity to prove he’s worthy of sticking around.

Giants Wide Receiver Corps has ‘Top-5 Potential’

As we touched on above, no longer will we see Shepard moonlighting as a No. 1 wideout in New York. Instead, that duty will be placed on the shoulders of Golladay — a player far more equipped for the job. One of the league’s biggest matchup nightmares, the former Detroit Lion is just one season removed from leading the NFL with 11 receiving touchdowns. Add in the handful of aforementioned additions, alongside a promising third-year deep threat in Darius Slayton, and the Giants have themselves one of the most intriguing receiver units in all of football.

Pro Football Focus would seemingly agree with this notion. The analytics site currently sees the Giants’ receiving corps as the No. 11-best in the NFL, but sees top-five potential from the group.

One of the biggest offseason storylines is the overhaul of New York’s pass-catchers. They signed Kenny Golladay, perhaps the best catch-point receiver in the NFL, and he’ll immediately add a necessary vertical threat. Since entering the league, Golladay has caught 53.6% of his contested targets, the fourth-best in the NFL. The addition of Golladay takes the pressure off Darius Slayton, who has been an explosive playmaker in his own right. He’s averaged 15.2 yards per reception in his two years, and he pairs with Golladay to form one of the better vertical duos in the league.

The Giants then drafted Kadarius Toney in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and he can make an immediate impact in the slot and on gimmick plays. Toney is dynamic with the ball in his hands; he’ll battle veteran Sterling Shepard for slot snaps after Shepard posted the top receiving grade on the team at 79.4 a year ago while ranking second with 37 first downs. That gives the Giants four receivers with different skill sets who can all contribute in their own way. They also took a flier on speedster John Ross, who has a couple of plays per year that remind you of his top-10 ability and 4.22 speed…

The Giants have made one of the biggest transformations in the passing game this offseason, and their variety of playmakers give them top-five potential.


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