Sterling Shepard

Giants To Re-Sign WR Sterling Shepard

4:07pm: A tweet from Shepard himself suggests that a deal is now in place, albeit one which marks a step down from his previous compensation. Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reports, to little surprise, that the Giants have signed the receiver to a one-year pact worth the veteran’s minimum (Twitter link).

2:17pm: The Giants have already been busy this offseason by retaining two pillars of their offense. Another veteran member of the unit will likely be in place for 2023, as well. New York is expected to re-sign wideout Sterling Shepard, reports ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (Twitter link).

The 30-year-old entered the 2022 season as the Giants’ lonest-tenured player, making him a veteran presence relied upon both on and off the field. His career has been marred by a number of injuries, however, including an ACL tear which ended his season in Week 3 this year. That was a disappointing end to his contact year, and marked a threat to his playing future.

Shepard has also dealt with an Achilles tear previously in his career, and has been able to put together a fully healthy campaign just twice in his seven seasons in the Big Apple. When on the field, he has been a consistent producer, however, and one who has been leaned on by multiple Giants QBs. Shepard has drawn at least 83 targets in a season five times.

The former second-rounder agreed to a restructured contract last offseason which made 2022 the final season of his deal. That move included a pay cut, something which, coupled with his ACL tear, will no doubt keep this new contract short on term and compensation. It will nevertheless allow him to continue his Giants career while giving the team a familiar face in the receiving corps.

New York’s pass-catchers were not a celebrated group at full strength to begin the season, and several of them suffered major injuries as the season went on. Shepard will best be suited to fill a complimentary role alongside the recently re-signed Isaiah Hodgins as the Giants aim to become more efficient through the air in 2023. Their offense will, of course, feature both quarterback Daniel Jones after he signed a long-term deal and running back Saquon Barkley, who will play this coming season on the franchise tag in the absence of a new pact of his own.

Shepard has a well-known relationship with free agent wideout Odell Beckham Jr. The Giants have been linked to a reunion with the latter this offseason, and were one of several teams in attendance for his workout conducted on Friday. Signing Beckham and Shepard would in no way preclude the team from targeting a wideout with their top pick in the upcoming draft, but it would give their offense more veterans as they transition into an era of Jones and Barkley being more expensive than in the beginning of their careers.

Giants Re-Sign WR Isaiah Hodgins

The Giants have been busy re-signing some of their exclusive rights free agents this week. The biggest of those names re-signed with the team Thursday.

Isaiah Hodgins, who went from waiver claim to the team’s most reliable stretch-run wide receiver, re-signed for the 2023 season. The Giants still have two more years of control with Hodgins, who is not eligible for unrestricted free agency until 2025. This is likely a one-year agreement, tabling this matter to restricted free agency in 2024.

Evolving from the “Minor NFL Transactions” space, Hodgins made a quick assimilation from Bills reserve to Daniel Jones‘ go-to guy. A former Brian Daboll charge in Buffalo, Hodgins caught four passes in the Bills’ Week 5 blowout of the Steelers and played for the team against the Chiefs the following week. Those cameos did not provide much indication of where his season would go.

Hodgins, 24, finished with 37 receptions for 392 yards and four touchdowns — almost all of those numbers coming as a Giant — and filled a void for a team that had seen its once-intriguing receiver situation turn into a borderline emergency. Season-ending injuries to Sterling Shepard and Wan’Dale Robinson, a trade of Kadarius Toney and Kenny Golladay becoming one of the worst free agent signings in recent NFL history left Darius Slayton as the last man standing. Hodgins, whom the Bills waived on November 1, did well to fill in the gaps and should be a notable cog for the 2023 Giants as well.

A second-generation NFLer, Hodgins caught eight passes for 89 yards and a touchdown in the Giants’ last-second loss to the Vikings in Week 17. Two weeks later, the 6-foot-4 pass catcher totaled eight receptions for 105 yards and a score to help the Giants upset the Vikes in the franchise’s first playoff win in 11 years.

Shepard’s restructured contract voided this week, and Slayton is on track for unrestricted free agency. Golladay will soon be released. The Giants are expected to pursue free agent wide receivers next month, but Hodgins will almost definitely factor into the team’s equation next season.

Latest On Odell Beckham Jr.

6:10pm: Adding further detail to Beckham’s visitation schedule, Anderson reports that the three-time Pro Bowler will meet with the Giants before heading to Dallas (Twitter link). In between, he is expected to meet with the Bills. Anderson adds that Beckham and his camp remain in conversation with the both the Chiefs and Ravens as he continues to draw significant interest from around the league.

3:30pm: The Cowboys and Giants are about to face off against each other on the field, but they are also in competition with respect to free agent Odell Beckham JrThe high-profile wideout is thought to be down to the NFC East rivals with respect to his decision on where to sign.

That decision is expected to come soon, but Beckham’s health is obviously a sticking point in negotiations. He tore his ACL during last season’s Super Bowl, leading to widespread expectation that a lengthy absence to begin 2022 would ensue. That could extend beyond the immediate future, however; FOX Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano reports that there is “considerable doubt” around the NFL that Beckham will be able to suit up at any point this season.

That could explain the slow-moving process by which the 30-year-old is weighing his options. CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson tweets that the Cowboys are expecting a visit from Beckham in early December, with a different team hosting him sometime before then. That represents at least a slight shift in the expected timeline for a decision to be made; Beckham had previously been reportedly seeking to find his next home by the end of this month.

Dallas has consistently been the most vocal team while pitching Beckham to choose them over a shortlist of other suitors (which includes the Giants but also, at least recently, the Bills, Chiefs and 49ers). Continuing along those lines, quarterback Dak Prescott has been personally involved in recruiting Beckham, as noted (on Twitter) by Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The latter has made it known on multiple occasions that mutual interest exists between he and the Cowboys.

Members of the Giants are also taking part in the bidding war for Beckham’s services, however. Injured wideout Sterling Shepard has been in conversation with him on an everyday basis, as detailed by Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.

“I talk to him every day, but we don’t talk about [his decision] too much,” Shepard said. “Obviously he knows that we want him here. He would love to be here. But everything has to play out for that to happen… And I understand that.”

The Giants’ WR room was far from highly-touted to begin the year, and the latest major injury suffered this past week (rookie Wan’Dale Robinson‘s torn ACL) leaves the unit severely shorthanded. Beckham could fill a significant void by reuniting with the Giants, though the same remains true of the Cowboys in that regard. Both teams will have a slightly clearer picture of their postseason outlook after today’s game, and could have a prized acquisition not long after.

WR Notes: Lions, Burks, Broncos, Giants

The Lions are leading the NFL in scoring, having hit 35 points in three of their four games. They did so Sunday without Amon-Ra St. Brown and D’Andre Swift and have been playing without their No. 12 overall draft choice all season. As expected, Jameson Williams will not return to practice when first eligible. Dan Campbell confirmed the first-round pick is improving but added “several weeks” remain before practices enter the equation, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Detroit has a Week 6 bye. Campbell said it will be “a good time after” that point before the team considers Williams practicing.

An Ohio State recruit who broke through after transferring to Alabama in 2021, Williams is rehabbing the ACL tear he sustained in the national championship game. The previously mentioned midseason return, which would give Williams nearly 10 months of rehab, may not quite cover it. But the Lions are understandably playing the long game here. They are not exactly primed to contend in 2022 and could have Williams under team control through 2026, via the fifth-year option. Once Williams’ practice window is opened, the Lions have 21 days to activate him from their reserve/NFI list.

Here is the latest from the receiver scene:

  • Turf toe will pause Treylon Burks‘ rookie season. While Ian Rapoport of notes the Titans receiver is not set to undergo surgery, he will miss time (Twitter link). This absence is expected to extend beyond a couple of weeks, per Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed. That would open the door to an IR stint. Turf toe can be a nagging issue, and this ailment has cropped up after Burks cleared some offseason hurdles to put together a somewhat promising start. Burks bounced on and off the field during the offseason for the Titans, with an asthma issue contributing to his missing minicamp. Despite the first-round pick not starting Tennessee’s opener, he caught seven passes for 102 yards over his team’s first two games. The Arkansas alum will look to build on that upon return.
  • Staying with the 2022 receiver draft class, the Commanders are set to be without their first-round pick for a stretch. A hamstring injury will likely sideline Jahan Dotson for at least two games, Ron Rivera said. Dotson has proven to be a solid contributor early, catching three touchdown passes in four weeks.
  • The Broncos, who have now lost two skill-position starters to season-ending ACL tears, are planning to elevate K.J. Hamler‘s role. Nathaniel Hackett said the 2020 second-round pick is a player the team must involve more in its game plans, via the Denver Post’s Parker Gabriel (on Twitter). Although Hamler caught a well-placed 55-yard pass in Week 4 to set up a Denver touchdown, he played four snaps in Las Vegas. Considering the Broncos are without Tim Patrick for the season, Hamler not seeing much action surprises. But the Penn State-developed speedster suffered an ACL tear and a hip injury — one the Broncos feared was a Bo Jackson-type malady — in Week 3 last season. With the team holding him out in Week 2 because of his previous injury, Hamler is still attempting to surmount that setback. During this process, the Broncos have used Kendall Hinton as their No. 3 wideout.
  • Sterling Shepard confirmed (via The Athletic’s Dan Duggan, on Twitter) he did not suffer any damage beyond his ACL tear, though the seventh-year Giants wideout estimated his tear actually occurred two plays before he went down. Shepard, who will undergo surgery this month, agreed to a pay cut to stay this offseason — which followed a 2021 Achilles tear. This latest injury could put the former second-round pick’s career in jeopardy.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/28/22

Here today’s minor moves from around the league:

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Seattle Seahawks

Giants WR Sterling Shepard Suffers Torn ACL

On their final offensive play of last night’s game, one of the Giants’ most important players saw his final action of the 2022 campaign. Wideout Sterling Shepard suffered a non-contact knee injury which was immediately expected to be season-ending (Twitter link via ESPN’s Jordan Raaanan). It has since been confirmed by head coach Brian Daboll that he tore his left ACL. 

Shepard fell to the ground despite not being touched by a defender; he was ultimately carted off the field. The diagnosis marks the second consecutive major injury he now has to recover from.

The 29-year-old suffered a torn Achilles last December, so news that yesterday’s injury is season-ending is a major blow for him. The Giants’ longest-tenured player, Shepard has battled an number of ailments throughout his career, and has played a full season just twice in his seven years in the NFL.

When on the field, the Oklahoma product has proven himself to be a reliable contributor in the pass game, though. Starting all but three contests to date, he has reached or eclipsed 65 catches in a season three times, recording between 576 and 872 yards from the years 2016-2020. He had once again been a mainstay this year, logging starter’s snaps in all three contests while registering 24 receptions, 154 yards and one score.

In his absence, New York’s situation at WR could become the subject of even more scrutiny. 2021 first-rounder Kadarius Toney sat out yesterday’s contest due to a hamstring injury, the latest in a long line of ailments which have defined his young career. Kenny Golladay, meanwhile, has been at the center of trade speculation given his reduced role under the team’s new coaching staff and front office. Either of those two could see an increase in playing time with Shepard sidelined for the year; the team also has Darius Slayton and rookie Wan’Dale Robinson at the top of the depth chart, along with David Sills, who has taken many of Golladay’s reps.

Giants WR Sterling Shepard To Return To Practice

The Giants did not move Sterling Shepard to the reserve/PUP list Tuesday, despite sending multiple other offensive contributors (Nick Gates, Matt Peart) to the list early. That inaction will precede a return to practice for the longest-tenured Giant.

Shepard, who is coming off an Achilles tear sustained in December, will return to practice Wednesday, Brian Daboll said. This will mark a key checkpoint for Shepard, who can no longer be stashed on the team’s PUP list to start the season. It is not a lock Shepard returns for Week 1, but a re-emergence during the team’s September slate looks likely.

This Giants team features a glut of receivers, though it is unknown if each of their four notable veterans — Shepard, Darius Slayton, Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney — will be on the 53-man roster alongside second-round pick Wan’Dale Robinson. Slayton has long looked like the odd man out. As for Shepard, the team reached a restructure agreement — what amounted to a pay cut — to keep him around this year. This will be Shepard’s seventh Giants season.

The only remaining holdover from the Jerry Reese GM regime, the former second-round pick signed a four-year, $41MM extension during Dave Gettleman‘s GM run. The 2019 deal has preceded modest results, with injuries — a steady theme during the talented wideout’s career — interfering regularly.

Still, having Shepard back stands to help Daniel Jones in his contract year. Shepard missed time for multiple ailments in 2021, playing only seven games for a dreadful Giants offense — one that did not have Jones for a chunk of the season. In 12 2020 games, Shepard caught 66 passes for 656 yards and three touchdowns.

Giants Rookie Wan’Dale Robinson In Line To Start?

The Giants have a number of options to choose from at receiver, each of whom is more experienced than Wan’Dale Robinson. The second-round rookie is currently making a case for a starting role right away, however. 

As noted by The Athletic’s Dan Duggan (subscription required), Robinson is currently occupying a first-team role in training camp practices. The other two spots, not surprisingly, have been taken up by Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney. That setup leaves a notable name in Darius Slayton relegated to backup work.

The veteran found himself in trade talks once again this offseason, one marked by the plethora of cost-cutting moves new general manager Joe Schoen was forced to make given the team’s salary cap situation. Slated to carry a charge of nearly $2.6MM this season, he could find himself amongst the team’s roster cuts if a trade partner can’t be found.

That leaves Robinson a path to significant reps early on his career, especially considering the disappointing first seasons in the Big Apple displayed by Golladay and Toney. Veteran Sterling Shepard will return for a seventh campaign after taking a pay cut this offseason, but his latest injury concern clouds his future beyond 2022. Robinson therefore faces little competition in terms of known commodities at a position of great importance to the Giants’ desired offensive turnaround.

After posting 1,445 scrimmage yards last season, the Kentucky product demonstrated his ability to produce significant numbers. The five-foot-11 slot man presents plenty of long-term potential for New York, but his inclusion with the starters ahead of Slayton in particular points to a heavier workload to begin his career than some would have expected.

Injury Updates: Packers, Seahawks, Jaguars, Colts, Giants

Packers second-round wide receiver Christian Watson was placed on the PUP before training camp opened, and ESPN’s Rob Demovsky writes that the rookie could miss a chunk of training camp. Watson continues to recover from minor knee surgery that took place following minicamp.

“I think there was kind of a thought process [of] do you want to try to push through the season and finish this after the (2022) season or should we just go ahead and do it now?” said Packers GM Brian Gutekunst said. “And we just did it now. So he’ll miss a little bit of time in camp, but it’s nothing long term.

“When we invest what we invested in Christian, we’re obviously looking out for the long term. We always do. He’s a young player who’s got a big career ahead of him, so we want to make sure we protect that. It’ll be how he responds through the rehab. As soon as he’s ready, we’ll get him out there.”

The Packers used the No. 34 pick on the rookie wideout. This naturally led to high expectations for the wideout, especially with Davante Adams out of the picture. The rookie has had only three opportunities to practice with Aaron Rodgers, and the wideout will miss out on chances to click with his QB during the early parts of training camp.

More injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Seahawks safety Jamal Adams underwent left shoulder surgery for the second-straight year, but he also underwent multiple finger surgeries during the offseason. Adams will be sidelined for “some time” while he gets his previously-injured hand checked out, coach Pete Carroll told ESPN’s Brady Henderson (Twitter link). “Yesterday his hand just wasn’t right, so he’s getting some opinions about it,” the coach said.
  • Jaguars running back James Robinson didn’t start training camp on PUP, but he won’t be a full participant right away, tweets ESPN’s Michael DiRocco (on Twitter). The hope is that Robinson will be fully cleared to participate in games by mid-August, meaning he could be active for the start of the regular season. Robinson tore his Achilles in Week 16 of the 2021 campaign, putting his early-season availability in doubt. Meanwhile, DiRocco notes that linebacker Devin Lloyd tweaked his hamstring during a conditioning test and will be sidelined for a few days.
  • Colts All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard (previously Darius Leonard) was placed on PUP following offseason back surgery. The intent of the procedure was to relieve pressure on nerves in his back, and there was hope the surgery would also improve “functionality issues” in his left leg. Fortunately, Leonard said he immediately noticed a positive difference following the operation, and he said he’s focused on his rehab as training camp starts. “I’m not putting a timetable on it, but when I’m ready, you’ll see me on the field after that,” Leonard said (via Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star). “I’m ready to continue with my rehab, I’m happy with where I’m at right now, and hopefully we’ll continue to go forward with this process.”
  • Giants wideout Sterling Shepard was placed on PUP as he continues to recover from a torn Achilles. According to Dan Duggan of The Athletic, the goal is for Shepard to be ready for the start of the regular season, but it’s still unclear if the receiver will be ready by then. Offensive lineman Nick Gates is also on PUP as he recovers from a lower-leg fracture suffered last September. Duggan passes along that coach Brian Daboll was “surprisingly optimistic” about the status of the OL, revealing that there’s no guarantee that Gates will be forced to miss any time.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/26/22

Today’s minor NFL transactions, including a handful of notable names landing on the physically unable to perform list and the non-football injury list as teams open up camp:

Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

  • Released with NFI designation: WR Cody Core

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Commanders