Cleat Geeks

The Panther Post: The Curious Case of Ted Ginn, Jr.

TedGinnOhioStateTed Ginn, Jr. declared his eligibility for the 2007 NFL draft after his junior season at The Ohio State University which culminated in All Big Ten honors for the speedy wideout and return man.  Ginn’s collegiate numbers were gaudy to say the least:  135 receptions for 1,943 yards and 15 TD’s; 28 rushes for 213 yards and 3 TD’s; and 102 total punt and kickoff returns with 8 more touchdowns.  After he reportedly ran a sub-4.3 second 40-yard dash in private workouts, it became almost a certainty that Ginn would somehow make his way into the latter portion of the first round of the NFL draft.  As the scouts say, “you can’t teach speed”.

TedGinnDolphinsThe Miami Dolphins came into the 2007 NFL draft in desperate need of a quarterback. The 2006 signing of Daunte Culpepper over Drew Brees had proven to be a disastrous mistake.  The Dolphins limped to a 6-10 record with Culpepper and Joey Harrington leading the team.  New blood was in order.  So, with the 9th overall pick and Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn still on the board, almost everyone at Radio City Music Hall assumed the Dolphins would announce Quinn as the pick.  I sat in the second level at Radio City during that draft.  It’s the only draft I have attended live, but I can’t imagine the boos being any louder from unhappy Jets fans than they were from irate Dolphins fans when the pick was announced as Ohio Sate Wide Receiver Tedd Ginn, Jr.  Even Ginn admitted later to being shocked that the Dolphins didn’t take Quinn.  The siren lure of the speed that Ginn could bring to the field was too much for the Dolphins to pass up.  It would prove to be a mistake.

Ginn played three seasons for the Dolphins and managed to average almost 43 catches and and a little over 550 yards per season.  He scored 5 receiving touchdowns and also scored 3 touchdowns on returns, including the magical day of November 1, 2009 when he returned two Jets kickoffs for touchdowns.  Five months later, after a 19-win, 30-loss tenure with the Dolphins, Ginn was traded to the San Francisco 49ers for a 5th round pick in the 2010 NFL draft.

While his time with the 49ers did include a trip to Super Bowl XLVII, a 34-31 loss to the Ravens, his only role was as a kickoff and punt return specialist. His name does not appear in the offensive box score of the Super Bowl. His three years in San Francisco produced just 33 catches and 1 touchdown on offense.  He managed 3 more touchdowns as a returner.  By the time he became a free agent in 2013, most viewed Ginn as nothing more than a return man who never quite had the talent and hands to become an every down NFL wide receiver.  Enter the Carolina Panthers.

One of the first signings of the Dave Gettleman era, Ginn’s signing by the Panthers was viewed by most of the fan base as nothing more than an attempt to bolster an anemic special teams unit.  However, he proved to be almost as valuable as a wide receiver as the Panthers shocked most prognosticators, finishing 12-4 before a 23-10 loss to the 49ers in the Divisional round of the playoffs.  Despite a receiving corps that included Steve Smith and Brandon Lafell (not to mention TE Greg Olsen), Ginn managed to catch 36 passes for 556 yards and 5 touchdowns.  More than he had accomplished in his three year run in San Francisco combined.  It appeared the Panthers had found a diamond in the rough.  Unfortunately, Ginn was only signed to a one-year deal.  When you finish 12-4 and win a division title, your players inevitably become targets when free agency rolls around.  Such was the case with Ginn, who signed a three year deal with the Arizona Cardinals.  GM Dave Gettleman was strapped in his early days by the salary cap problems left from the Marty Hurney era, so Carolina had no choice but to let him go to the desert.  It lasted 11 months.TedGinnArizona

The highlight of Ginn’s stay in Arizona was a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown in only his second game with club.  That was about it.  Ginn caught 14 passes for 190 yards and no touchdowns on the season.  The week two return was his only score of the season.  Ginn was released by the Cardinals on February 23, 2015, and signed by the Panthers on March 9, 2015.  His break up with the Panthers lasted a mere 361 days.

The Panthers reunited with Ginn with the hopes that he would again bolster the return units, but also act as a third or fourth option at wide receiver while rookie Devin Funchess learned the ropes and 2014 rookie phenom Kelvin Benjamin continued to progress.  Jerricho Cotchery was viewed as the older statesman and veteran presence, while Philly Brown continued his development after a surprising 2014 season as a rookie free agent.  But a funny thing happened along the way…TedGinnCarolina

Kelvin Benjamin tore his ACL early in training camp.  Devin Funchess has not proven to be ready as a rookie.  Jerricho Cotchery has missed two games with a high ankle sprain, and Philly Brown has not shown any of the flashes of potential that were there as a rookie.  Suddenly, a kick-returning draft-bust that nobody else seems to trust as an every down wide receiver has become the #1 option for Cam Newton and the 4-0 Carolina Panthers.  Ted Ginn’s stat line through four games: 12 catches, 206 yards, 3 touchdowns.  It’s not a stretch to say the Panthers may not be 4-0 without him. But here is the stat that really tells it all: In 20 career games as a Carolina Panther, Ginn now has eight touchdown receptions.  In 104 career games with everybody else, he has six.

Panther fans are glad you found your way home Mr. Ginn.  This time, you might want to stay a while.

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