I’m not sure if we’re still in the second wave of free agency, or the fifth. Either way, with the exception of the guys named Dwight Freeney, Charles Woodeson, Osi Umenyiora, John Abraham, and Elvis Dumervil (so basically, every defensive end and Woodson), we’ve definitely reached the depth signing territory.
That doesn’t mean the signings you’ll continue to hear about over the next week or so don’t have value. In fact, they often have very specific and centralized value due to a specialized skill. Enter Ted Ginn Jr. who just signed with the Panthers, agreeing to a one-year deal.
Ginn departs from San Francisco, where his role was almost solely returning kickoffs and punts. He’s split his six NFL seasons evenly between Miami — the team that quite horrendously made him the ninth overall pick in 2007 — and the 49ers, and 128 of his 161 career receptions came when he was a Dolphin. Already marginalized as a wide receiver, he faded even further down the 49ers’ WR depth chart this past season when Randy Moss and Mario Manningham were brought in to join Michael Crabtree, and behind them was youth in the form of Kyle Williams and 2012 first-round pick A.J. Jenkins.
Kick returning is his game, and throughout his career Ginn has averaged 23.2 yards per kickoff return, and 11 per punt return. Those averages are a little deceiving, as the return game is one that’s inherently based on sporadic bursts. Injuries have recently zapped Ginn of that, but he has six career return touchdowns, including scores that required runs of 102, 101, 78, and 87 yards.
So he can do that, which is nice. And he’s fast, which is also nice. But will he redeem himself as a receiver in Carolina?
Well, the depth chart there is more inviting than the one Ginn just left in San Francisco, with Steve Smith occupying the top spot and drawing the majority of Cam Newton’s targets, followed by Brandon LaFell. But then there’s a bunch of struggling average-ness, with David Gettis and Armanti Edwards doing little. That could give Ginn isolated opportunities with his high-end vertical speed utilized, and he could also slide in and be used intermittently as a slot receiver.