The free agency period has been very kind to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to this point, especially with the signing of wide receiver DeSean Jackson and defensive tackle Chris Baker. But, in a bit of damper on the day, the team won’t be having their special teams captain and one of their locker room leaders, Russell Shepard, back in 2017.

It’s reported that Shepard heads to Carolina on a three-year deal.

Shepard, who has been on the Buccaneers since 2013, caught 40 passes last season, the most single-season catches of his career. Shepard has been a special teams ace for the Bucs for the past couple of seasons, but was thrown into a starting No. 2 wide receiver role in the latter half of 2016 once both Vincent Jackson and Cecil Shorts were out of the lineup.

Shepard, who is 26 years old, cashed in on an opportunity to become Panthers’ No. 2 or No. 3 receiver after the departure of Ted Ginn Jr. – a better opportunity on a better deal. With the signing of DeSean Jackson, and knowing there’s a good chance the Buccaneers are going to continue to add receiver talent throughout the draft process, this was the right business move for him.

PewterReport.com confirmed the Buccaneers did offer Shepard a contract of $2.25mil per year, but the opportunities for his growth as a player were much more limited knowing the outlook and direction of this team.

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Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]

19 COMMENTS

  1. That sucks. Hopefully he doesn’t hurt us.

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  2. Agreed. Hope he does well, except for maybe when he plays us.

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  3. Cam Newton is still the Carolina QB right? I hope Shep signed for a decent amount of guaranteed money. Cam sucks at hitting WRs. Undercover Buccaneer cashing Carolina checks!

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  4. This does suck. Whatever Carolina offered, we should have matched. Over the past 2 years, you could see his improvement as a receiver, and his special teams play was just that…special. Not to mention his leadership. At 26., it should have been a no brainer. One step forward and 2 steps back, never get you anywhere.

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    • I think most everybody likes Shepherd, but if we pay him more, we have to pay someone else less. That’s how it works in a salary capped league. It’s Jason Licht’s job to manage the salary cap as GM, along with his assistants. They’ve done a very good job so far. Nobody knows exactly what they were willing to pay Shepherd, but whatever it was, Carolina offered more. It takes discipline to live within a budget or a salary cap.

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  5. Sad to see Shep go, but the article is wrong, he only caught 23 passes last season, not 40. He will be missed, but honestly this was his best move. At this point he’s #4 on the WR depth chart and we all know we are going to either draft another WR high or bring in more competition which would likely move him down further.

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  6. As I understand it, it was about both the playing time on offense and the money, which are related. Report was Russell Shepherd was offered a number averaging in the upper threes, and that was more than Jason Licht had him down for in the salary cap spreadsheet. It’s business.

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  7. We will REALLY miss this man!! Best of luck RS.

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  8. So true Naplesfan.
    Liked his play but he is still evolving into a reliable receiver after 4 or 5 years in the NFL. How much longer do we have to wait.
    Dropped a sure TD pass against the Panthers in the end zone on the Bucs first drive against them in the home game which no one seems to remember. He then went on to drop two or three more in the same contest. Made the game closer than it should have been.
    Two steps back 727 when you lose a player like Shepperd?
    Remind me never to get in a foxhole with you or put you on a sales force.
    Tell me, when it starts to rain do you announce to everyone its going to rain for the next 40 days and nights?

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    • Only if he hears these words in a deep voice, “727, I want you to build an arc.”

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  9. glad to see that faget gone we need to sign justin blackmon and branden weeden imagine how good we would be #makethebucsgreatagain

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  10. Farewell Shep. Good luck to you in 14 games next year.
    GO BUCS

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  11. I’ve really enjoyed R. Shepard’s time with the Bucs. He’s a great special teamer and was an underutilized WR. I actually like him as a #3 more than Humphries. Even though he’s going to the Panthers I wish him all the best of luck.

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  12. He hasn’t proven in 4 years he can be a Starter and maintain that position. His starts were due ot other starting WR’s being injured. This is no big loss.

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  13. I just hope they keep our other gunner, Josh.

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  14. Seriously Big Show, if you can’t express yourself without letting your inner Donald Trumo reveals your true nature, perhaps its better you stay mute so as not to reveal your hate and ignorance.

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    • When I read Big Show’s veiled reference I knew you would jump to your feet with a protest. To make you feel better; this time of off-season always brings “hope and change”

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  15. Shep was a 5-star coming out of high school and a college QB who had th guts tro become a special teams captain. I was really pulling for him to develop into a very good WR with Jameis. Agree Bucs should be upgrading big time, but I was really hoping he would have been part of the solution.

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  16. Big Shows comment was nit only uncalled for, but rude and disgusting as well.
    But because he can remaun anonymous and clothed behind a technical white sheet, the sniveling coward feels comfortable making such a comment.
    Sadly, when you have a President that is a role model for such behavior, it is doubtful it will lessen.
    Remember, god has a unique sense of humor and we can only hope that Big Show has a gay son somewhere in his future.
    Shep was a loyal fierce player for the Bucs and i wish him well when he isnt playing the Bucs.
    Besides, Lovie Smiths outbrurst against Shep’s pregame speech was one of the key reasons the Glazers decided to kick Lovie to the curb.
    We can all be grateful to Shep for that.

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