Giants’ veteran receiver is likely headed toward the free-agent market

nfl: new york giants at washington commanders, sterling shepard
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants‘ passing game this season has been marred by injury and inconsistencies. Quarterback Daniel Jones has suffered a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the 2023 season, if not some of the 2024 season. Backup Tyrod Taylor sustained an injury, placing him on IR, and undrafted rookie out of Illinois, Tommy DeVito, has stepped up and taken over as the primary signal caller.

DeVito has done a fine job instilling confidence and making plays for an offense that ranks at the bottom of the NFL in most categories. The passing game has shown signs of life, with youngsters Wan’Dale Robinson and Jalin Hyatt producing.

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A Giants Veteran Likely on the Way Out

However, veteran slot receiver Sterling Shepherd has been mostly left out of the equation. Shepard has only 15 targets this season, hauling in seven catches for 39 yards and a touchdown. While he would prefer to get more playing time, the Giants are going younger, and Shepard’s primary value is his veteran leadership and energy on the sideline.

After suffering a season-ending injury last year, enjoying just 21 targets, the team signed him to a veteran minimum contract to stick around, but the 30-year-old will likely head to free agency after the season comes to an end. The team may keep him around as an experienced pass-catcher, but the days are long gone when he is featured as a primary option.

In limited action against the New England Patriots this past Sunday, he dropped a pass that would’ve converted a first down, posting 6 yards on one reception.

Shepard is the Giants’ longest-tenured player since being drafted back in 2016. He’s had a solid career but has dealt with a significant number of injuries in the past, disrupting his development and degrading his athletic profile. With Robinson taking on a much more significant role as the primary slot receiver, Shepard’s time with the team certainly feels as though it’s coming to an end.