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.
— PewterReport (@PewterReport) March 10, 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.