The Arizona Cardinals added speed to their offense and special teams by signing wide receiver and return specialist Ted Ginn Jr. to a three-year contract on Thursday.
News of the notable free-agent signing was reported by the Cardinals' official Twitter account:
Ginn was the ninth overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft out of Ohio State, where he flashed rare skill in the open field and the ability to blow by defenders with his stunning acceleration. Unfortunately, he didn't develop into the No. 1 receiver the Miami Dolphins thought he'd be within three years, which led to a subsequent three-year stint with the San Francisco 49ers.
Last season, the Carolina Panthers plugged Ginn into their offense and he responded with 36 receptions for 556 yards and a career-high five touchdowns. It was an impressive display from Ginn after the Niners all but excluded him from their passing game in 2012, where he managed just two catches for one yard in 13 games.
After a nomadic past several years, Ginn hopes this is the last stop on his NFL journey, per Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com:
This opportunity in Arizona may be the best chance Ginn, 28, has had to succeed as a receiver in his career to date. Coach Bruce Arians likes to take shots down the field in his offense, and Ginn has the speed to blow the top off opposing defenses.
CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora provided some simple but appropriate analysis:
The Cardinals also have premier wideouts such as Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd already, and have done well to land Ginn as a replacement for departed free agent Andre Roberts, who recently signed with Washington.
Another positive element Ginn offers is a spark on special teams, as he has returned three punts and three kickoffs for touchdowns in his career. Considering how tough the NFC West promises to be, Ginn could be a big X-factor by giving Arizona's offense enhanced field position in facing the talented defenses of Seattle, San Francisco and St. Louis.
Miami never had a stable quarterback situation when Ginn was there, and he was still acclimating to being a receiver after being recruited as a defensive back in college. The 49ers had a predominantly run-oriented offense, and the years Ginn was heavily involved were when Alex Smith was under center. Smith doesn't have the type of arm talent to fully capitalize on Ginn's knack for getting behind secondaries.
Playing with a strong-armed QB in Cam Newton in 2013, there were clear signs of improvement from Ginn—even with fellow receiver Steve Smith past his prime and Brandon LaFell serving as a No. 2 at best.
Now that Ginn is surrounded by a better supporting cast of skill players in Arizona, he should help the Cardinals continue to ascend after a 10-win season and be a friendly target for Carson Palmer to throw to.