A source told ESPN that Shepard currently has interest from six teams, including the Bucs. About half of those teams want to make him a legitimate No. 3 wide receiver, with the possibility of being a No. 2. The other teams have offered to make him “one of the highest-paid special-teams players in the league with multiple offensive packages,” the source said.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the New England Patriots' Nate Ebner, who led the NFL with 19 special-teams tackles last season, made $1.2 million for the 2016 season. Sherrick McManis of the Chicago Bears had 13 special-teams tackles and made $1.4 million. Chris Maragos of the Philadelphia Eagles made $2 million last season and Shepard’s own teammate, backup cornerback and fellow gunner Josh Robinson, also made $2 million last year.
With Shepard and Robinson, the Bucs allowed just 5.6 yards per punt return last season, the fourth-lowest mark in the league in 2016 and fourth best in team history.
Last offseason, Shepard signed a restricted free-agent tender with the Bucs worth $1.67 million last season. He originally entered the league in 2013, when he signed with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent, before the Bucs claimed him off waivers that year.
Shepard was pressed into action far more as a receiver last season than previous seasons due to injuries suffered by Vincent Jackson, Louis Murphy, Cecil Shorts and Adam Humphries. Shepard caught 23 passes for 341 yards and two touchdowns in 2016. He also had a key fumble recovery in the Bucs' Week 5 win over the Carolina Panthers, knocking the ball loose from punt returner Ted Ginn Jr.
It’s uncertain which other teams have offered Shepard, but the Bucs have let it be known they’d like to keep him.