After spending time with four teams over his first decade in the NFL, one thing seemed apparent: Ted Ginn is better with the Panthers.
This season, however, the narrative has changed.
Maybe Ginn is better with age.
At age 32, Ginn has somehow managed to maintain his world-class speed, but in the past even that didn't bring him sustainable success with teams not named Carolina.
This year, however, Ginn is enjoying Panthers-like production in the uniform of a Panthers rival.
He's found a new home in New Orleans, and on Sunday the Saints will host the Panthers with first place in the NFC South on the line.
"It's been a blessing, being 11 years into this game and still having the opportunity to play – for somebody to consider me a top guy in this league," Ginn said. "There are some great guys here, and we're just having a ball."
A first-round draft choice by the Dolphins back in 2007, Miami made the effort to feed Ginn the ball his first three seasons – with mixed results. The Dolphins traded him to the 49ers in 2010, and from that point on his only notable numbers came in two stints with the Panthers.
After catching two balls for one yard in his third and final season in San Francisco, Ginn came to Carolina in 2013 and caught five touchdowns after totaling six over his first six NFL seasons. He left after one year, however, only to fail to flourish with the Cardinals. He returned to Carolina in 2015 and totaled 14 touchdown receptions over the next two seasons.
Because of that, many assumed Ginn would re-sign with the Panthers this offseason when he became a free agent. The sides did talk but weren't on the same page.
"I just really think they felt like for my age and who I was, that I was just going to settle," Ginn said. "But I felt like I had the opportunity to go out and get some money at the age that I was, and I didn't want to settle.
"That's how it is in this game. You win some, and you lose some. I was just happy that I was able to come on down south."
Ginn's parents grew up in the New Orleans area, and he's made himself at home. With 42 catches for 641 yards and three touchdowns, he needs 15 catches and 150 yards over the final six games to establish new career highs.
"There's a leadership presence about him, and he's come up each week with big plays," Saints head coach Sean Payton said. "He's smart on the field. He stretches the defense. We've had opportunities to get the ball down the field because of him.
"He cares about winning. Whether he has two catches, one reverse – whatever – he has played in this league long enough and appreciates the challenge of winning games."
Despite playing for five different teams now, Ginn is an intensely loyal player. He said he took some satisfaction from finding the end zone against the Panthers in Week 3 – a 40-yard strike early in the second half that turned the game into a borderline blowout – and he'd love to see more of the same Sunday.
"You always want to go out and do something against your old team," Ginn said. "I'm calm, cool and collected – right now, probably until about Saturday night. All I want is a 'dub' (W). I don't care if I do anything, as long as my team ends up with the dub."