The Giants formally announced the loss on Tuesday morning, with Head Coach Brian Daboll confirming that Shepard tore his ACL following the game-ending interception. Not only will the season-ending injury open up a roster spot, but it creates a massive void in the Giants’ shaky wide receiving group.
The loss of Shepard is, in the words of Saquon Barkley, a gut-punch. But the NFL season marches on and the Giants now have a hole to fill, so what are the Giants’ options?
The Giants’ options for filling the hole left by Shepard’s injury is complicated by their tight cap situation. The Giants have just $5.2 million in cap space to see them through the season. That could limit them to the least-expensive options, and the players on their practice squad in particular.
The Giants signed veteran receiver Marcus Johnson to their practice squad on September 5th, after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers. Johnson has played in 41 games, starting 12 in his career. He’s also familiar with Giants’ Assistant GM Brandon Brown and WR Coach Mike Groh.
Pimpleton is a small rookie receiver at 5-foot-9, 172 pounds, but he was one of the breakout stars of this year’s Hard Knocks. The former Detroit Lion came into the League as an undrafted receiver after the 2022 NFL Draft.
He has great hand-eye coordination, agility, and explosive acceleration. Those traits made Pimpleton a dangerous slot receiver, runner with the ball in his hand, and punt returner. Richie James has proven to be a reliable option out of the slot, but Pimpleton could provide more depth and a similar skill set to Kadarius Toney and Wan’Dale Robinson (who are both dealing with injury).
Off the street
The 26-year old former UDFA has been on and off the Giants’ practice squad since 2019. Bachman turned into a preseason sensation for the Giants, and was considered a “sure thing” to make the final roster. He lead the Giants in receiving over the course of the preseason, racking up 19 catches for 166 yards and 2 touchdowns in three games. Bachman played well enough in practice and games that he earned reps with the Giants starters.
“All this guy’s done is the right thing since he’s been here. He’s showed up in the spring and worked as hard as he possibly could and got better each day,” Brian Daboll said at the time. “He’ll get more chances.”
But despite his practice and play, Bachman was one of the first players waived in final cutdowns. He was brought in for a workout by the New England Patriots but remains an unsigned free agent.
The Giants could look to bring Bachman back on a minimum contract.
An old friend
We’ve heard that head coach Brian Daboll has been facetiming veteran receivers for a while now, and we could see the Giants bring in a veteran receiver that isn’t on our radar.
However, all things considered, it makes sense to look at players with a connection first. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has reported that the Giants have been persistent in their pursuit of veteran slot receiver Cole Beasley. Beasley was a key player in Daboll’s offense at Buffalo, and was a thorn in the Giants’ side as a Cowboy. He is currently on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad, and therefore eligible to be signed to another team’s active roster.
Florio writes, “The Giants have been the most persistent, we’re told. But the offers have been at or near the league minimum. Beasley, who has earned nearly $50 million in his career, doesn’t need to play for whatever he can get.”
As noted above, the Giants are right up against the salary cap and can’t afford much more than the veteran minimum. However, they may also now be desperate enough to offer Beasley a more significant contract to come to New York. Whether or not they have the stomach for that, or Beasley wants to leave Tampa Bay, remains to be seen.
Stay with Big Blue View for more updates on the Giants’ roster moves as we get them.