There's an old saying in football: "You can't coach speed."
If there's one thing that wide receiver Ted Ginn has had plenty of dating back to his days at Ohio State, it's speed. It's one of the things that has helped Ginn become one of the NFL's most dangerous return men.
Now Ginn will be plying his trade in the desert. After a single season with the Carolina Panthers, in which Ginn set a career high with five touchdown grabs, the 28-year-old has signed a three-year deal to play with the Arizona Cardinals.
Mike Jurecki of 910 AM in Phoenix was among the first to break news of the agreement:
Hearing some early numbers on Ted Ginn three-year deal, worth about $9.75M deal. #AZCardinals— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) March 13, 2014
Darren Urban of the Cardinals' website reports the deal is worth $9.75 million over its duration, and Ginn told Urban he can't wait to get to work with his new team:
I’ve been watching this organization for a while, played against them a couple of times. I wanted to go somewhere where I could help the team. They needed a fast guy, which I can bring to them. The return game, I can help out. Patrick Peterson, he’s a great returner but I could help him concentrate on ‘D’ a little bit more. Being able to take the load off (Larry) Fitzgerald from time to time, get (Michael) Floyd involved.
Ginn's certainly right that he can help in the return game. Over his career, Ginn has amassed nearly 8,000 return yards, returning six kickoffs and/or punts for scores. Twice in the past three seasons Ginn has ranked among the top-five return men in the NFL at Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
In fact, Ginn holds an NFL record for returning a pair of kickoffs more than 100 yards in the same game, and he brought both a punt and kickoff back for a touchdown in the same game while with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011.
With Ginn in the fold, the Cardinals may well pull Peterson from return duties altogether so as not to risk getting one of their top defenders hurt.
Things haven't gone as well for Ginn as a receiver. By just about any objective measurement, Ginn has disappointed as a pass-catcher relative to his lofty draft slot. Ginn has never topped 60 catches, racked up 800 receiving yards or scored more than five touchdowns in a season. The seven-year veteran ranked 50th among wideouts at PFF last year.
Still, it's not exactly Ginn's fault that the Miami Dolphins made him the ninth overall pick in 2007, and the Cardinals signed Ginn to complement their passing attack, not carry it.
With Andre Roberts now in Washington, the Cardinals needed to add depth behind Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Ginn should be able to fill that role, and while he isn't the steady possession receiver Roberts is, Ginn's ability to hurt defenses vertically adds a new dimension to the Arizona offense.
It's a dimension Chad Parsons of FootballGuys believes will aid in Floyd's development:
I like Ted Ginn in Arizona....take the top off and give room for Floyd to progress into a stud.— Chad Parsons (@ChadParsonsNFL) March 13, 2014
Throw in that Ginn cost the Cardinals slightly less than what Roberts got from Washington, and while this isn't an earth-shattering signing, it continues a solid offseason to date for general manager Steve Keim, head coach Bruce Arians and the Cardinals.