Joe Judge called Sterling Shepard after Giants drafted Kadarius Toney

USA TODAY Sports

Giants coach Joe Judge felt it important to call Sterling Shepard after the team used a first-round choice on Kadarius Toney. Judge said he reassured Shepard that the Giants were trying to improve the team, not looking to replace Shepard.

“I thought it was necessary to talk to Shep specifically because when we drafted Toney, the word in the press as he was reading those headlines was specifically he’s a slot receiver,” Judge said, via Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. “Which, look, we are not bringing in someone to play one position. I thought it was relevant at the time to contact Shep out of respect for how he is with our program to communicate that with him.”

Shepard got the message, insisting he doesn’t view Toney as competition for his job. It was expected Shepard would return to playing more slot receiver after Kenny Golladay signed as a free agent.

Toney gives offensive coordinator Jason Garrett even more options.

“We’re different players,” Shepard told Leonard. “We needed weapons. That’s just another weapon added to the team and to the offense, and he also brings some value in the return game.”

Shepard’s contract, though, puts his long-term future with the Giants in question. He has no guaranteed money after this season when he is due to make $6.975 million in base salary.

The Giants could move on after this season, though Shepard’s contract run through 2023.

In five seasons with the Giants since they made him a second-round choice, Shepard has 313 receptions for 3,518 yards and 20 touchdowns.