Cardinals Sign Ted Ginn Jr.
Ted Ginn Jr. signed a three-year, $9.75 million deal including $5.2 million guaranteed with the Arizona Cardinals, replacing the outgoing Andre Roberts. The seven-year vet will serve as the number three receiver in Bruce Arians’ pass-happy attack.
Ginn actually had one of the better years of his career last year in Carolina, due in part to the ongoing injury woes of Steve Smith (who only missed one game but was nagged by injuries most of the season). He finished with 36 receptions on 68 targets for 556 yards and a career-high five touchdowns. The touchdowns were mostly of the deep variety, with 40, 47, 25, 36 and 3 yards. He also stood out in the Panthers playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers – probably a bit of spite for his former team who targeted him only twice in 2012 – with four catches on six targets for 104 yards. Looking a little deeper, he finished 31st in WR Rating, 23rd in fantasy points per snap, and had an overall rating on the year of +5.7.
The challenge for Ginn — as it was for Roberts last season — is that the WR1 and WR2 spots on the team’s depth chart are pretty much entrenched. Larry Fitzgerald is as reliable and durable as they come, with six straight 16-game seasons to go with 954 yards and 10 touchdowns. He finished a little lower in targets (18th), the first time in seven years that he hasn’t been in the top 10. But many of those targets went to Michael Floyd, who finished 26th overall for 1,041 yards.
The common theory on this signing is that with so much attention placed on Fitzgerald and Floyd, Ginn will be a strong deep threat and potential sneaky fantasy play. After all, Carson Palmer finished seventh overall in deep passing attempts and 10th in percentage of attempts that went deep. But are we sure Ginn is a deep threat? Yes, he finished 18th in the league in percentage of his targets that were deep passes (based on receivers who were on the field for a minimum 25% of his team’s deep targets). But he ranked 48th in number of yards per route run and caught only four of his 16 deep targets, a 25% catch rate that ranked him 61st. Moreover, he had a sixth-worst drop rate of 33.3%. Meanwhile, Floyd had a catch rate on deep balls of 34.6% and Fitzgerald had a rate of 26.7% with five touchdowns between them and not a single drop. When Palmer is looking for a big play downfield, are we sure his eyes will be on Ginn?
The final piece to the puzzle, of course, is the kick return game. It’s expected that Ginn will replace Javier Arenas as lead kick returner while Patrick Peterson will remain the primary punt returner. I would argue that they should consider inserting Ginn into both spots. Arizona ranked 30th in return average on kicks and 31st on punts in 2013. Ginn outperformed both Arenas and Peterson last season: 23.8 average yards on kicks to Arenas’ 21.4 and 12.2 average yards on punts to Peterson’s 6.0. Arenas has yet to score a kick return TD and Peterson is two years removed from his last special teams score; Ginn has three KR and three PR touchdowns in his career. Considering that Peterson is such a key part of the defense, keeping him on special teams seems an unnecessary risk going forward.
In summary, if you play in a league that awards points for special teams yardage, Ginn could have value. But barring injury to Fitzgerald or Floyd, he’ll likely fall somewhere between what he did and what Roberts did in 2013 — 43 catches, 76 targets, 471 yards, and two touchdowns.
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