Source: Sterling Shepard reworks deal, staying with New York Giants

ByJordan Raanan ESPN logo
Friday, March 11, 2022

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard is returning on a reworked one-year deal, a source told ESPN on Thursday.

The team's longest-tenured player wanted to return. He was previously signed through 2023.

Shepard, 29, was set to make $8.5 million in the 2022 season coming off a torn Achilles in his left leg. He suffered the injury while trying to make a cut in a December loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

That effectively put the status of the longest-tenured Giant in jeopardy. Shepard was scheduled to count $12.495 million against the salary cap this season on a deal that had two years remaining. This new deal is expected to significantly lower that number.

The cap-strapped Giants would have saved only $4.5 million if Shepard was cut after moving money into future years last season to make room under the cap.

The likely solution all along was an adjusted contract for Shepard that came with a pay cut. He wanted to remain in New York with the team that selected him in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft out of the University of Oklahoma.

The Giants also have been careful not to leave Daniel Jones stranded in this make-or-break season for the young quarterback under new coach Brian Daboll. Cutting Shepard and trading running back Saquon Barkley was never the new regime's top preference to get under the salary cap by the start of the new league year at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Shepard has been Jones' favorite target when healthy. The problem, however, has been consistently staying healthy. Shepard has missed 17 games over the past three seasons and is now recovering from a serious injury.

A source did indicate that Shepard has been doing well in his rehab and the hope was that he would be cleared physically by early summer, at the latest. That would put him in line to potentially be ready for the start of the season in September.

Shepard had 36 catches for 366 yards and a touchdown in seven games last season. He has 349 receptions for 3,884 yards and 21 touchdowns in his six professional seasons.

In other cap-savings news Thursday, the Giants released punter Riley Dixon. Dixon averaged 46.1 yards per punt in 2019 but dipped into the 44-yard range the past two seasons and had a rough 2021 campaign. The move saves the Giants $2.8 million against the cap.