All Carolina Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn wanted was respect. And by respect, you can safely assume he meant dollars. Ginn made it known publicly via Twitter that he didn’t think he was getting the respect he felt he deserved.
After all, Ginn was the second leading receiver for the Panthers in 2016 as well as their punt returner. Indeed, Ginn had been a big part of the Carolina Panthers offense over the past two seasons, which includes their NFC Championship.
It is now apparent that Ted Ginn was not part of the plan in the “evolution” of the Panthers offense, and it has nothing to do with money.
The New Orleans Saints signed Ted Ginn to a 3 year contract worth 11 million dollars (3 million guaranteed). The Carolina Panthers chose to sign Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Russell Shepard to nearly the exact same contract as Ted Ginn received in New Orleans. Shepard signed with Carolina for 3 years worth 10.5 million (2.5 million guaranteed).
On paper it looks like the Carolina Panthers literally replaced Ted Ginn with the much less experienced Russell Shepard for the same amount of money. That doesn’t sound like respect, more like the opposite. So what gives?
In a word, potential.
Russell Shepard is by all accounts a Ron Rivera type of player. Going from an undrafted free agent to captain of the Buccaneers special teams unit in only two years is unheard of. But can he play receiver? Can he show the same amount of talent and promise catching passes? Well, that question was answered last season.
When Vincent Jackson went down with injury in Tampa Bay last season, it was Russell Shepard who stepped up and helped fill in.
Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston gave a glowing review of Russell Shepard.
“He’s a different person,” said Winston. “The way that he thinks, the way that he works, the way that he applies his technique. He’s a hard worker, he has tremendous heart, he has tremendous passion and that’s one thing that you can say about Shep. He’s different and when you’re different, that makes you successful. He’s just a great player for us, he’s one of our main guys. You all probably just asked me about him because he scored a touchdown, this weekend was a big game [for him], but if you look at film week in and week out, he’s going to show up and he’s going to be one of our key players.”
Here is the touchdown reception Winston was referring to.
This was no “gimme” touchdown. Shepard ran a textbook route in tight coverage for the score. Also it is important to note, Winston had the confidence in Shepard to make that throw. I would say that is fairly impressive for a receiver who was getting his first real chance to play.
Putting it all together, the Carolina Panthers saw a hungry young receiver just entering his prime that had risen to the occasion on every step of his NFL career. Can Russell Shepard continue to develop and become the much needed slot receiver and reliable deep threat for the Carolina Panthers? If the past is any indicator for the future, I don’t see why not.