A week after the Giants reportedly asked wide receiver Sterling Shepard to take a pay cut in 2022 and beyond, the former second-round pick has done just that, according to multiple reports. Rather than seek a fresh start elsewhere, the 29-year-old Shepard has agreed to a reworked contract that both lowers his salary and voids the final year of his previous four-year extension, per ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, returning him to New York but making him a free agent after the 2022 campaign.
Shepard, 29, is the longest-tenured player on the Giants’ roster, which figures to undergo significant overhaul under new coach Brian Daboll and first-time general manager Joe Schoen. He was previously due $12.5 million in 2022, the penultimate season of a four-year, $41 million deal he signed in 2019. Releasing Shepard outright would’ve saved the Giants $4.5 million, but the wideout wanted to return to the Giants, per Raanan, and New York has publicly committed to building around quarterback Daniel Jones.
Shepard has been a productive, if unspectacular, wideout when healthy, eclipsing 50 catches and 575 receiving yards in each of his first five NFL seasons. The problem is, he’s rarely stayed healthy, playing just two full seasons and missing 20 games over the last three years, including 10 in 2021 due to a torn Achilles. His best marks came in 2018, when he logged a career-high 66 catches for 872 yards and four touchdowns, averaging over 13 yards per catch opposite Odell Beckham Jr.
Entering 2022, Shepard figures to remain in the conversation for a starting role in New York, unless the Giants use another early draft pick at the position.