The 2019 season was a problematic one for New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Having signed a four-year, $41 million extension last off-season, Shepard was expected to make a significant impact moving forward, but injuries could derail his career prematurely.
Extending Shepard was a byproduct of trading away Odell Beckham Jr., along with signing Golden Tate, who played for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018. Last season saw many negatives and positives, but one of the major deficiencies was the loss of Shepard on two separate concussions, forcing him out for six total games.
Why the New York Giants should be concerned over Sterling Shepard:
After taking a hit to the head in the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, Shepard missed the following game with a concussion. Fast forward to week five, And he suffered another head injury, missing the next three games. He was cleared by an independent neurologist but eventually succumbed to more concussion symptoms and was forced out for another two games.
While Shepard was able to return to the field and finish the season, these concussions are quickly adding up and could become too significant to ignore. Shepard has suffered concussions in the past, notably at Oklahoma and in high school, and with two young daughters, risking his long-term health is risky.
Moving forward, the New York Giants will have to find a way to better protect their top slot receiver, which could indicate more reps and targets for Darius Slayton and Tate. We can also expect a heavy dosage of Saquon Barkley in the run and passing game after his recovery from a high ankle sprain. They also have Corey Coleman on the back end of the wide receiver unit, who could make his presence felt after tearing his ACL during training camp last season. He was re-signed to one year deal, and while this is probably his final chance at leaving his mark in the NFL, he could supplement some of Sterling’s reps.
However, Shepard is an integral part of the offense, and his chemistry with Daniel Jones is an essential factor in the offense’s success. I don’t anticipate them limiting Shepard over the long run, but one more concussion could spell the end of his career. This is a genuine issue that we’ve seen impact players down the road and hurt their families in the process. Avoiding this reality is for the betterment of his life and should be prioritized over the game.