Report: Sterling Shepard Rejoins Baker Mayfield in Tampa Bay

Shepard had the best year of his football career in 2015 after Mayfield took over the Sooners' starting quarterback duties.
Baker Mayfield and Sterling Shepard in 2015
Baker Mayfield and Sterling Shepard in 2015 / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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Is Tampa Bay in 2024 going to look anything like Knoxville in 2015?

Baker Mayfield and the Buccaneers reportedly got some good news on Thursday when long-time NFL receiver and former Oklahoma wideout Sterling Shepard signed a one-year contract with the team.

Earlier this year, Shepard, 31, nearly retired from pro football after an injury-scarred eight-year career with the New York Giants, but never made a formal announcement and never filed the paperwork.

Instead, Shepard bade his old team a heartfelt farewell but kept the door open — and apparently has had a change of heart and will try to play for Tampa Bay.

Maybe the allure of playing with his old college QB was just too strong to walk away.

A four-year starter for the Sooners from 2012-15, Shepard caught 233 passes for 3,482 yards and 26 touchdowns in the Crimson and Cream. But he had the best year of his career when Mayfield took over the starting job in Norman, catching 86 passes for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior in 2015.

That included Mayfield’s breakout game, a frenetic fourth-quarter and overtime comeback at Tennessee, in which he threw two dramatic TD passes to Shepard. 

As a Giant, Shepard played in all 16 games just twice during his career due to an ongoing string of injuries that included an ACL and an Achilles. As a rookie in 2016, he caught 65 passes for 683 yards and eight TDs, and as a third-year player in 2018, Shepard caught 66 passes for 872 yards and four scores.

Last year with the Giants, Shepard was healthy most of the year and made two starts while playing in 15 games. He posted career-lows of 10 receptions for 57 yards and a TD.

Although the Bucs have a laundry list of young receivers in town this summer, Shepard’s experience and his rapport with Mayfield could allow him a spot in the frontline rotation with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.


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John E. Hoover

JOHN E. HOOVER

John is an award-winning journalist whose work spans five decades in Oklahoma, with multiple state, regional and national awards as a sportswriter at various newspapers. During his newspaper career, John covered the Dallas Cowboys, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Oklahoma Sooners, the Oklahoma State Cowboys, the Arkansas Razorbacks and much more. In 2016, John changed careers, migrating into radio and launching a YouTube channel, and has built a successful independent media company, DanCam Media. From there, John has written under the banners of Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, Fan Nation and a handful of local and national magazines while hosting daily sports talk radio shows in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and statewide. John has also spoken on Capitol Hill in Oklahoma City in a successful effort to put more certified athletic trainers in Oklahoma public high schools. Among the dozens of awards he has won, John most cherishes his national "Beat Writer of the Year" from the Associated Press Sports Editors, Oklahoma's "Best Sports Column" from the Society of Professional Journalists, and Two "Excellence in Sports Medicine Reporting" Awards from the National Athletic Trainers Association. John holds a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications from East Central University in Ada, OK. Born and raised in North Pole, Alaska, John played football and wrote for the school paper at Ada High School in Ada, OK. He enjoys books, movies and travel, and lives in Broken Arrow, OK, with his wife and two kids.