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Buccaneers agree to terms with ex-Giants WR Sterling Shepard on one-year deal

Sterling Shepard appears to have found his perfect situation.

The veteran receiver has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NFL Network Insider Mike Garafolo reported Thursday, per a source.

Shepard's move to Tampa reunites him with his former University of Oklahoma teammate Baker Mayfield, who was the last quarterback to throw Shepard passes in college before the receiver graduated to the NFL in 2016. The 2015 collegiate season was nearly a decade ago, but given the adversity Shepard has faced in recent years -- including a torn Achilles in 2021 and a torn ACL in 2022 -- if he were to return at 31 years old, doing so with a familiar face makes the most sense.

Shepard expressed uncertainty regarding his NFL outlook after the 2023 season -- his first healthy campaign since 2020, in which he played just 142 snaps and caught 10 total passes -- explaining he'd need a dream scenario to convince him to give it another go.

"I feel like it's too early to get into that right now," Shepard said during a January appearance on FS1's *The Carton Show*. "But it's gotta be a perfect situation for me to come back to the game, to be completely honest."

Considering how difficult the last three seasons have been for him, it would make plenty of sense for Shepard to retire, or at least take a break from the game. But at 31 years old, the time to strike is now. It doesn't take more than a couple of banged-up seasons for the rest of the league to suddenly turn its nose up at a veteran receiver with juice still left in the tank (just ask Jarvis Landry).

Shepard is giving it another go by joining a roster that should be good enough to win its division and seriously contend for more in 2024. It likely helps, too, that Mayfield is coming off a career year and returning with the security of a contract extension. Stability seems to be better in Tampa than it was in New York for much of Shepard's career.

All that's left is for Shepard to prove he can still play well enough to make an NFL roster.

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