Shepard agreed in principle Wednesday with the Giants on a four-year, $41 million extension, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports. Shepard, who was set to become a free agent next offseason, gets a deal that surpasses that of new teammate Golden Tate, who received a four-year, $37.5 million contract from the Giants last month. The extension immediately quiets any speculation that Tate's addition has put Shepard on the trade block and suggests the latter is a big part of what the Giants want to do offensively moving forward. With Tate specializing in the slot, Shepard seems poised for more work on the outside than he has seen in the past. In addition to Tate, Shepard will have to contend for targets with Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram.
Shepard likely will play most of his snaps outside in 2019, Scott Thompson of SportsNet New York reports. The Giants replaced Odell Beckham with 30-year-old Golden Tate, who primarily works inside and excels after the catch. Shepard is approximately the same size as Tate and also has spent most of his career in the slot, but the 25-year-old appears to be a better fit outside thanks to his superior straight-line speed and leaping ability. While the Giants shouldn't have much trouble creating slot snaps for both players, it makes sense to have Shepard outside in the base alignment. Even with Beckham out of the picture, there's no guarantee Shepard sees an uptick from last year's mark of 6.7 targets per game, as the Giants' offseason moves point to an increased emphasis on the rushing attack. There's also plenty of competition for Eli Manning's attention, with Shepard, Tate, Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley all viable candidates to lead the team in targets.
Shepard is primed for a larger role within the Giants offense after the team traded Odell Beckham (quad) to the Browns on Tuesday, Matt Lombardo of The Newark Star-Ledger reports. Primarily a slot receiver through his first three seasons, Shepard averaged 63.3 catches for 762 yards and 4.7 touchdowns on 98.7 targets over 14.3 games. There was a clear pattern of extra volume whenever Beckham missed time with an injury, but Shepard wasn't consistent in taking advantage of those opportunities. The 25-year-old has sufficient athleticism to handle more snaps outside, and there's a good chance he enters 2019 as New York's No. 1 option at wideout. Of course, the team still has plenty of time to add more weapons during the offseason, and it's a safe bet Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram account for a large chunk of the overall target volume.
Shepard finished the season with 66 catches for 872 yards and four touchdowns on 107 targets. Shepard was slightly disappointing given Odell Beckham's (quadriceps) late-season absence and Evan Engram missing time with a knee injury during the middle of the year, but the Eli Manning factor mitigates that. A solid route runner with average size and speed, Shepard should reprise his usual role as the No. 2 wideout behind Beckham in 2019. Better play under center could raise Shepard's fantasy ceiling.
Shepard (hip) practiced in full Thursday. The Giants scaled back Shepard's practice reps Wednesday due to a hip issue, but the third-year pro returned to full capacity one day later. Fellow member of the receiving corps Odell Beckham (quadriceps) is trending toward a fourth consecutive absence, leaving Shepard to act as the No. 1 wideout yet again Sunday against the Cowboys. In his first three opportunities, Shepard posted a 10-167-1 line on 22 targets, with most of that production coming Week 16 at Indianapolis (six catches on seven targets for 113 yards).
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|3||09/22||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||28||25.00|
|6||10/11||@New England Patriots||14||21.68|
|10||11/10||@New York Jets||32||27.38|
|13||12/01||Green Bay Packers||26||24.75|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||99||63||762||5||42||12.10||108|