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Year in Review: WR Ted Ginn Jr

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Hands? What hands?

Wild Card Round - Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

After Brandin Cooks was traded to New England last offseason, the question was: who would replace Cooks’s production and speed threat in the New Orleans Saints offense?

Enter Ted Ginn Jr.

The 31 year old veteran signed a three-year contract to come to New Orleans from the rival Carolina Panthers for a total of $11 million, only $3 million of which is guaranteed.

While no one expected Ginn to completely shoulder the burden of Cooks’s departure himself (as growth from Michael Thomas, Willie Snead, Coby Fleener, and an exciting rookie pass-catching RB Alvin Kamara should have also helped), Ginn was everything the Saints could have hoped for and more in 2017.

Ginn finished the season with 787 yards and 4TDs, playing in 15 games and averaging 14.8 yards per reception. Ginn was also used sparingly in the return game, totaling another 159 yards on both punts and kicks.

While Ginn matched his 2016 total in TDs and finished with an average yards-per-reception just above his career mark, his receiving yards were his highest since his sophomore season in 2008 with Miami. For all you “AV” folks out there, Ginn tied the highest AV of his career last season, a mark he also set in 2015 when his production was helped by 10 receiving TDs. He was one of Drew’s primary reads in the passing game, and showed that even at 32, he’s still got plenty in the tank.

Now that’s not all to say it looked to be roses and rainbows after the Ted Ginn signing. Ginn was notorious for drops, and looked to be right on track to be “same ole Ginn,” even as early as the preseason.

Ginn’s career catch rate typically hovered around 50% for his career, which is obviously a big drawback to his 4.2 speed. But take a deeper look into Ginn’s career, and outside of a couple years with Alex Smith (formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs and now with Washington), Ginn hasn’t had the most accurate of passers to throw him the ball. As recently as his last couple of years with Carolina with Cam Newton (who is one of the most notoriously inaccurate passers in the NFL at times), Ginn’s catch rate was around his career mark. His 2015 season? The one with the 10 TDs? Catch rate of 45.4%.

And then he came to New Orleans, where his QB was Drew Brees, the most accurate passer in NFL history. He was able to post an insane catch percentage of 75.7%, by far the highest of his career, with no previous season topping 61% (min. 5 receptions). He was able to show the NFL, and the Carolina Panthers, that maybe all that talk about his hands was overblown.

Speaking of catch rates, that Brandin Cooks fellow? After showing above average hands his three years in New Orleans with a catch percentage in the high 60s, Cooks dropped to 57% in his first year with Tom Brady.

But Ginn will never be as productive as Brandin Cooks was in this offense. The good news is: the Saints won’t need him to. If he can keep up anything close to his 2017 production for the remaining two years of his contract, he’ll be an absolute bargain.