The signing of slot receiver Golden Tate by the New York Giants puts Sterling Shepard’s role in jeopardy, especially if the front office is looking to extract some sort of value from him before he becomes a free agent in 2020.
Rumors of a potential trade proposition including Shepard have bubbled to the surface, as the Giants could be looking to move him to add draft capital – something they failed to do with safety Landon Collins before he eventually signed a massive deal with the Washington Redskins.
Shepard has a great skill set and is expected to earn a hefty contract in free agency next season. His statistics have fluctuated throughout his career, but his abilities haven’t. He has been mostly healthy with the exception of five missed games in 2017.
Last season, he racked up 66 catches for 872 yards and four touchdowns. Alongside Tate, the duo could have significant success operating on an offense that focuses on short/intermediate routes. With Saquon Barkley the focal point of the offense, it allows premium slot receivers to excel. Tate offers great value in terms of yards-after-catch, and Sterling has trustworthy hands and can make the tough grabs in big moments.
The New York Giants could take a different approach with Shepard:
In previous years, a clear trend was visible when Beckham missed time. Shepard earned more reps but struggled to make the most of them as teams knew that shutting him down was all they needed to do. Barkley offers a distraction.
Shepard has worked on diversifying his skill set and can now function as a wideout if need be. Rotating Tate and the home-grown Giants talent could result in unexpected success.
Utilizing tight end Evan Engram in the passing game should open up the field and allow Shurmur to spread the ball around. At times, Beckham dictated the offense and required more opportunities, but it seems that the ball will find its way all around the field in 2019. After all, the Giants did average more points last season in the four games Beckham missed than when he was present.