Could Giants’ veteran receiver experience twilight resurgence?

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George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

As the New York Giants gear up for the season, the competition is heating up, especially at the wide receiver position. With several seasoned players vying for a handful of available roster spots, the management has some critical decisions on the horizon.

Sterling Shepard: The Comeback Kid?

Despite earlier speculations that Sterling Shepard might just be on the fringes due to his ACL injury, his recent performances in training camp and preseason suggest otherwise. His agility and impeccable route running have not only silenced his critics but have reestablished his value to the team.

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“I don’t want to play anywhere else,” Shepard told the New York Post. “I want to retire a Giant. So yeah, I don’t think I would go play anywhere else. I do burn to play, and that’s a tough question, because I feel like I still have something in the tank and this is what I love to do.

Given that Shepard, now 30, hasn’t played more than seven games since 2020, it’s widely believed that his peak years might be behind him. Yet, insiders are buzzing about how Shepard’s speed seems undiminished, and his experience is prominently evident. Could a resurgence be on the horizon?

Reflecting on Shepard’s journey, 2018 was a standout year for him with 872 yards and four touchdowns at a catch rate of 61.7%. Even his rookie year stands out when he scored a career-high eight touchdowns, setting the trajectory for his illustrious career.

The Giants’ decision to bring him back, even on a veteran minimum contract, highlights his enduring value. Additionally, restructuring his contract in the past provided the team with added salary cap flexibility.

With 63.7% of his career snaps in the slot and 35.6% on the boundary, Shepard’s versatility as a receiver is undeniable. This unique skill set bolsters his case to be an integral player for the Giants.

Key Giants Players to Watch

Shepard’s reconnection with quarterback Daniel Jones is pivotal. The established camaraderie between them cannot be understated. Moreover, Jones will likely prioritize other familiar faces, including Darius Slayton, with his fresh two-year, $12 million deal. Let’s not forget the second-year TE Daniel Bellinger, who is anticipated to have an augmented role, and running back Saquon Barkley, who remains in the fold on a one-year contract.

By retaining seasoned players like Shepard, the Giants are not just ensuring a mix of youth and experience but also fostering mentorship for the younger talent. For Shepard, even on a minimum deal, his value to the team remains significant.