Russell Shepard

Former Giants WR Russell Shepard Retires From NFL

Longtime NFL wide receiver Russell Shepard has retired from the NFL (Twitter link via Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com). Shepard, who also celebrated his 30th birthday today, spent seven seasons in the league. 

Shepard still had opportunities to play this year, but he wasn’t interested. In August, he declined the Ravens’ invitation to work out alongside Dez Bryant and other wide receivers.

Shepard spent the first five years of his career in the NFC South, playing for the Bucs and Panthers before inking a one-year deal with the Giants in 2018. The former undrafted free agent was always more of a special teams player than an offensive force. Statistically, his best season came in 2016 when he set career highs in catches (23) and yards (341). His first season in New York/New Jersey wasn’t much different – he notched just ten grabs for 188 yards and two scores. In 2019, he landed on IR after just three games.

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Russell Shepard Declines Ravens Workout

The Ravens asked Russell Shepard to work out alongside Dez Bryant and others this week, but he turned down their invite (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). Instead, the wide receiver is “set to walk away and is not planning to play in 2020.”

[RELATED: Ravens Won’t Sign AB]

Shepard, it seems, is ready to move on from football altogether. The 30-year-old spent the first five years of his career in the NFC South, playing for the Bucs and Panthers before inking a one-year deal with the Giants in 2018. The former undrafted free agent was always more of a special teams player than an offensive force. Statistically, his best season came in 2016 when he set career highs in catches (23) and yards (341). His first season in New York/New Jersey wasn’t much different – he notched just ten grabs for 188 yards and two scores. Last year, he landed on IR after just three games.

That’s one less wide receiver option for the Ravens, but they’ll still consider Bryant and Dwayne Harris, a fellow ex-Giant who also showed his stuff for the team this week. There was some talk of the Ravens signing Antonio Brown, but they’ve formally shut the door on him, despite the endorsement of Lamar Jackson.

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Giants Place WR Russell Shepard On IR

The Giants have placed wide receiver Russell Shepard on injured reserve and promoted running back Jon Hilliman from the practice squad, the club announced today.

Shepard, 29, had been working as New York’s fourth wideout behind Sterling Shepard, Bennie Fowler, and Cody Latimer. On 73 offensive snaps, Shepard had posted three receptions for 25 yards on eight targets. With veteran pass-catcher Golden Tate due back from a suspension in Week 5, Shepard — who recently suffered a foot sprain — is no longer needed. He could potentially return from IR in eight weeks, but it seems unlikely the Giants would use an IR/return slot on Shepard.

Hilliman will become New York’s third healthy running back behind Wayne Gallman and Elijhaa Penny, and will serve as depth while starter Saquon Barkley is shelved four-to-eight weeks with a high-ankle sprain. A 2019 undrafted free agent, Hilliman signed with the Giants’ practice squad August after getting waived at final cutdowns. He spent three years at Boston College and one at Rutgers, managing 3.5 yards per carry during his collegiate career.

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NFC East Notes: Haskins, Cooper, Jeffery

Could the dawn of the Dwayne Haskins era be upon us? Redskins starting QB Case Keenum is dealing with a foot injury and did not practice today, which could force Jay Gruden to turn to one of his backup signal-callers when his team takes on the Giants this weekend. John Keim of ESPN.com notes that Colt McCoy, who hasn’t taken part in a full practice since August 11, participated in the team’s walk-through today, but Gruden wants to see him plant and push off before he thrusts him back into action. 

Haskins, the 15th-overall pick in the 2019 draft, is Washington’s QB of the future, and Gruden did not rule out the possibility of turning to the Ohio State product this weekend. However, Gruden does expect Keenum to be ready to go, which means Redskins fans may have to wait a little longer for their first regular season glimpse of Haskins.

Now for more injury-related items from the NFC East:

  • A brief scare for the Cowboys, as WR Amari Cooper left practice early today with a right ankle injury. However, Todd Archer of ESPN.com says the team does not believe it’s a serious issue and expects Cooper to see his normal workload against the Saints on Sunday night.
  • Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery was a full participant in practice today, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. That obviously suggests that he’ll play in tomorrow night’s key matchup with the Packers. Philadelphia could certainly use him, as the team is at risk of falling to 1-3.
  • The Giants are still short-handed at wideout, as receiver Russell Shepard has been diagnosed with a foot sprain, per Rapoport (via Twitter). Shepard’s availability for Week 4 is in doubt.

Giants To Re-Sign WR Russell Shepard

The Giants have agreed to re-sign wide receiver Russell Shepard, as he indicated himself in an Instagram post.

Shepard, 28, spent the first five years of his career in the NFC South, playing for the Buccaneers and Panthers before inking a one-year deal with the Giants last offseason. The former undrafted free agent had never been much of an offensive force, as he’d reached career highs in receptions (23) and yards (341) during the 2016 campaign. Shepard’s first season in New York wasn’t much different, as he posted just 10 catches for 188 yards and two scores.

Shepard could potentially contribute to an Odell Beckham-less Giants receiving corps in 2019, but it’s more likely he makes his impact on special teams. He played 58.5% of Big Blue’s special teams snaps last year, managing four tackles and helping New York’s ST unit rise from 32nd to 3rd in Football Outsiders’ special teams rankings. As Jordan Rannan of ESPN.com tweets, Shepard was also considered a solid veteran presence in the Giants’ locker room.

Last year, Shepard’s one-year deal with the Giants had a base value of $1.25MM and contained roughly $750K in incentives. Details of his new pact haven’t been announced, but Shepard likely inked a similar accord.

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New York Notes: Beckham, Collins, Maccagnan

Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. is once again being mentioned in trade rumors, with one prominent national writer expressing his belief that OBJ will be dealt this offseason. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv, though, believes the Giants would be foolish to pull the trigger. For all of his perceived character issues, Beckham is well-liked in the locker room, displays a strong work ethic, and generally holds himself accountable when things go badly. He has done and said things that the team would obviously prefer he didn’t, but on the balance, he is an irreplaceable talent, and Vacchiano believes the Giants would be well-served to simply deal with whatever distractions Beckham creates, as they have not been damaging to this point (at least not when compared to his on-field production).

Now for more from the Big Blue and Gang Green:

  • Ryan Dunleavy and Matt Lombardo of NJ.com debated a few of the most pressing issues facing the Giants this offseason. Dunleavy believes that somehow taking care of Landon Collins should be the club’s top priority, and it still seems likely that the team will put the franchise tag on him. After Collins, Dunleavy believes the next unrestricted free agent that the Giants should prioritize is cornerback B.W. Webb, while Lombardo believes the club should focus on Russell Shepard, who should not be overly expensive to retain.
  • While Dunleavy and Lombardo agree that trading Beckham will hurt the Giants in the short-term, they both appear convinced that he will not see the end of his five-year contract with the team, and that trading him will be in the team’s best interest at some point in the near future.
  • The Jets hold the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019, and since they already have (they think) their franchise signal-caller, they could trade that pick to a QB-needy team for a bounty of draft capital. As Vacchiano suggests, the Giants are one team that could be giving the Jets a call.
  • The Jets have 23 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, and Brian Costello of the New York Post offers his thoughts on some of the biggest names on that list and whether they will return next season. Costello believes 2018 revelation Henry Anderson will be retained, while the futures of Morris Claiborne and Jason Myers are a little more uncertain.
  • Costello believes the Jets will tender RFA Robby Anderson at the second-round level, which is in keeping with what we have heard before.
  • Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has a spotty free agent record, a poor draft record (outside of the first round), and has put together a potentially volatile coaching staff in 2019. With a ton of cap space and a young talent under center, the potential is there for Maccagnan to engineer a quick turnaround, but as Vacchiano writes, if the team does not show good progress in 2019, the blame will fall squarely on Maccagnan, and not new head coach Adam Gase.

Russell Shepard To Sign With Giants

After being released by the Panthers early last week, Russell Shepard didn’t need long to find a new home. The wide receiver took to Instagram on Monday and announced he is signing with the Giants. It’s a one-year deal worth $1.3M that can be worth up to $2M with incentives, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Shepard joins a loaded offense that includes Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, Evan Ingram and first-round pick Saquon Barkley. The fourth-year pass catcher likely slots in as the team’s No. 3 or 4 receiver with the newly signed Cody Latimer.

Shepard signed a three-year deal with the Panthers last year, but his time in Carolina came to an end after just one season. The Panthers approached him about a pay cut, but he refused, leading to his release. Shepard never found a groove with the team in 2017, logging just 17 receptions for 202 yards and one touchdown.

He now catches on in New York, whose new general manager Dave Gettleman was the one who inked the receiver to the deal in Carolina. The Giants will need to make a corresponding move once they make the move official. No financial terms have been made available.

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Bills To Meet With Russell Shepard

The Bills are scheduled to host wide receiver Russell Shepard on a visit this week, according to Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News (on Twitter). Shepard was released by the Panthers on Monday, making him a free agent. 

The Bills have made a habit of targeting ex-Panthers players under the guidance of head coach Sean McDermott (former Panthers defensive coordinator) and GM Brandon Beane (former Panthers executive). Since McDermott came on board in 2017, the Panthers have brought in wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, running back Mike Tolbert, quarterback Joe Webb, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, and cornerback Leonard Johnson (Webb is no longer with the team and Tolbert and Johnson remain in free agent limbo).

Beane was with the Panthers in March of 2017 when they inked Shepard to a three-year free agent contract. Two months later, he agreed to follow McDermott to Buffalo.

Shepard appeared in 15 games for the Panthers last year but didn’t quite live up to expectations. He finished out with 17 catches for 202 yards and one touchdown. This week, the Panthers cut ties with him in order to save $2MM+ against the cap.

Before signing with Carolina, Shepard had 23 catches for 341 yards and two touchdowns in his final year with the Bucs.

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Panthers Release WR Russell Shepard

It’s officially official. On Monday afternoon, the Panthers announced the release of wide receiver Russell Shepard

Shepard signed a three-year deal with the Panthers last year, but his time in Carolina is up after just one season. The Panthers believed that Shepard would build off of his 23 catches for 341 yards and two touchdowns with the Bucs in 2016. Instead, he never really found a place for himself in the Panthers’ offense.

The Panthers recently asked Shepard to accept a pay cut, but he refused. It was something of a no-brainer decision for Shepard as the difference between his severance and expected intake for 2018 is just $900K. The Panthers will now save $2.125MM against the cap with $1.4MM in dead money by releasing him.

With Shepard out of the picture, the Panthers will move forward with Devin Funchess and first-round pick D.J. Moore as their top wide receivers. Veterans Torrey Smith and Jarius Wright are also in the mix, as well as 2017 second-round pick Curtis Samuel.

Shepard joins Dez Bryant, Dontrelle Inman, Eric Decker, and Jeremy Maclin on the free agent wide receiver pile.

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Panthers To Cut WR Russell Shepard?

It sounds like Russell Shepard‘s time in Carolina will come to an end. The Panthers asked the wide receiver to take a pay cut and indications are he won’t take one, which likely will lead to his release, David Newton of ESPN.com tweets

Shepard signed with the Panthers last offseason after spending the previous four years with the rival Buccaneers. The Panthers were reportedly one of six teams to pursue Shepard last year, but the Panthers won out with a three-year deal worth roughly $10.5MM. After just 17 catches for 202 yards and one touchdown, the Panthers are moving on. The Panthers will save $2.125MM against the cap with $1.4MM in dead money if they release Shepard.

The Panthers didn’t want to give up on Shepard entirely, but he simply wasn’t worth the money after the Panthers acquired veteran Torrey Smith and invested a first-round pick in D.J. Moore.

Last year, the Bills and Lions were among the clubs to express interest in Shepard. The Buccaneers also showed some level of interest in retaining him.

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