Reports are that former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Russell Shepard is making a visit to One Bills Drive. Certainly, Brandon Beane is familiar with Shepard and is continually looking to upgrade the WR position. Shepard played in 501 snaps as a slot receiver and special teams contributor in 2017.
A league source tells me the #Bills are scheduled to host former Panthers WR Russell Sheppard on a free-agent visit later this week.
— Jay Skurski (@JaySkurski) May 15, 2018
The former LSU product was targeted 31 times and was able to bring in 17 receptions for 202 yards and 1 touchdown last season. Shepard’s issue last season was drops; he displayed concentration issues, which led to six of them. But last season was an outlier in that department, so maybe a change in scenery will do him some good.
Shepard aligned in the slot 79.3 percent of the time and was targeted 18 times. Ten of his 17 receptions and 140 of his 202 yards were from that alignment.
Receptions by direction per PFF
Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney reportedly asked Shepard to take a pay cut a year after signing a 3 year $10 million dollar deal. That deal was arranged by former GM Dave Gettleman, who is now the roster builder with the Giants. Shepard refused Hurney’s demand; he then requested a release, and it was granted.
Shepard appears to have limited abilities when on the field. The Panthers utilized him on WR screens and underneath routes on jet sweeps. He has some short area quickness and understanding, which can help out his quarterback on high/low concepts in the short and intermediate area.
But he appears to be more of a special teams contributor. He could immediately pitch in on the kickoff and punt teams. He’s registered 37 solo tackles and 5 assists over the course of his 5-year career. Even if signed, he will have an uphill battle to make the team. The organization has brought in several players with similar traits to breed competition at the slot WR position. The receiver competition is going to be fun to watch over the next few months!