When the Buccaneers allowed veteran wide receiver Russell Shepard leave for free agency last offseason, the decision was not well received.
He would then go off and sign with division rival Carolina Panthers, making the decision to let him walk more difficult to stomach. Then, after scoring in his first game with the Panthers, fans were livid.
But things calmed down for Shepard quickly as he only only posted a 202-yard season in Carolina with that lone score.
While in Tampa Bay, Shepard was serviceable. Although he didn’t light up the stat sheet, he was a guy that understood his role on offense on top of being the special teams captain.
Below are Shepard’s numbers through his career when he was targeted, courtesy of our good friend Cam Mellor of Pro Football Focus.
With Tampa Bay
2016 – 83.4 passer rating when targeted (39 targets, 23 receptions, 341 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions when thrown to, two missed tackles forced)
2015 – 79.9 passer rating when targeted (nine targets, three receptions, 28 yards, one touchdown, zero interceptions, two dropped passes)
2014 – 87.2 passer rating when targeted (seven targets, four receptions, 63 yards, zero touchdowns/interceptions, one missed tackle forced)
2017 – 77.1 passer rating when targeted (31 targets, 17 receptions, 202 yards, 109 YAC, one touchdown, one interception, six dropped passes)
Shepard was productive for being a depth guy in Tampa Bay for the most part. With Jameis Winston at the helm, Shepard was most productive yardage-wise in 2016.
So should the Bucs bring him back? Reports state Shepard refused a pay cut which led to his release. He’d have to be willing to take less than what he was going to earn in Carolina anyhow, something he apparently didn’t want.
It’s a two-way street so we’ll wait and see if general manager Jason Licht reaches out to Shepard’s camp and he’s interested in returning.