The Giants and WR Sterling Shepard are "working on" a contract extension that is expected to be worth $41 million over four years, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano confirmed on Wednesday. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the deal has $21.3 million in guaranteed money.
Shepard was entering a contract year, with his rookie deal expiring at the end of the season. There was no notion the Giants were interested in bringing back the Oklahoma product, let alone extension talks taking place. Rumors were floating around saying the Giants would want to shop Shepard, so they wouldn't let another talent walk into free agency like Landon Collins did this offseason.
However, sources told Vacchiano the Giants never had any intention to trade Shepard. When Odell Beckham Jr. was dealt to the Browns, the team knew that Shepard needed to be signed long-term. Teams, like the Patriots as Garafalo points out, may have called GM Dave Gettleman to see if Shepard was available, but those talks weren't going to be anything more than that.
Another reason many believed Shepard's days in New York were coming to an end was after the Giants gave veteran WR Golden Tate a four-year, $37.5 million deal with $22.95 million guaranteed at signing. Tate and Shepard are almost identical receivers, even when it comes down to height and weight. Both are good route runners that have a knack for getting open and converting on third down in their careers.
But Vacchiano learned the Giants don't necessarily view these two as the same receiver. Instead, the team has faith that either Shepard or Tate can work on the outside instead of just the slot, and their skillsets will be compliments of one another for years to come.
Pat Shurmur on Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate: "(Tate's) skillset is like Sterling's. They are gritty blockers and you can play them on the edge and in the slot ... They have both done good work in the slot and have had production outside. You can play both guys wherever."- Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) April 10, 2019
In the end, the Giants are committing to a player who has grown through their system into a solid receiving option. Shepard was drafted in the second round (40th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft, and is now the first player in that draft to receive a contract extension.
Over his three years in Big Blue, Shepard has totaled 2,286 yards on 190 receptions with 14 touchdowns and a 64.6 catch percentage. Last season, he had his best year in yards with 872 on 66 catches and four touchdowns.