No Free Agent signing appears to be more important for the 2021 NY Giants than WR Kenny Golladay. But, let’s dive deeper into this position. The upgrades don’t stop with Golladay.
The Giants were busy from the start of 2021 Free Agency upgrading the wide receiver corps. Signing WR Kenny Golladay was mission #1. But then the GMen surprised fans by inking former Bengals’ oft-injured first-round pick, WR John Ross III, to a contract. Then, the Giants added first-round draft pick, WR Kadarius Toney. These three players are added to a WR room that already includes Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Dante Pettis, CJ Board, and Austin Mack. The competition doesn’t stop there. In addition, WR David Sills V is fully recovered from his 2020 injured reserve stint, has renegotiated his contract with the Giants, and will compete for a roster spot. Sills was looking very good in the 2020 preseason before a foot injury derailed his season.
Sterling Shepard is entering his sixth season as the senior ranking WR on the team with a contract that keeps him a Giant through 2023. Shep’s challenge is to stay on the field, having suffered multiple concussions in his career so far. While he has proven to be a very reliable possession receiver, he is also one of the best blocking WR in the league. I’m talking “Hines Ward” level of blocking ability. Shep is not afraid to put a helmet into a linebacker to free up a big run. But let’s not lose sight of his receiving skills. He led the team last year in receptions, first downs, touchdowns and catch percentage. He’s sure-handed and doesn’t give up the football (just 2 fumbles in 335 touches over 5 seasons)…a perfect Joe Judge guy. To honor his dad, Shep switches to #3 on his uniform this season, back to his Sooner days.
A lot is already written about Kenny Golladay. Kenny brings sure hands and the ability to win contested catches. Prior to last year’s injury-shortened season, Golladay had back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons in 2018 and 2019. Most importantly, Golladay brings the Giants a true red-zone wide receiver, and joins TE Kyle Rudolph as instant red-zone targets for QB Daniel Jones.
Next to Daniel Jones, WR Darius Slayton may be the biggest beneficiary of the signing of Golladay. Slayton had a breakout 2019 season as a rookie. But in 2020, the Giants struggled to put a credible WR opposite Slayton to limit double coverage on the team’s only real deep threat. Golden Tate is gone now to make room for Golladay. Add the fact that the very young offensive line was not exactly giving DJ much time in the pocket. The result was a fairly quiet season for Darius. 2021 brings one more year of O-Line cohesiveness and experience, plus Golladay, Shepard, Slayton, and maybe even Toney to give opposing secondaries fits.
WR Kadarius Toney will make the team and push for snaps in the offense as well as on special teams. In my opinion, the receivers that will be fighting for roster spots are Ross, Board, Mack, and Sills. All are very capable. Ross is the veteran that is looking to reestablish himself as a deep threat worthy of snaps with the offense. CJ Board is a reliable, if not flashy possession receiver with good hands. Mack was an undrafted free agent WR that worked his way onto the roster and into the lineup due to his blocking and some injuries to other WRs. But, he has talent. He reminds me of Shepard in how he plays. Sills has the ability to become the surprise receiver of the bunch. When you watch him play, he reminds you of Julian Edelman or Danny Amendola, sneaking across the middle and getting just enough yards to move the chains. If he didn’t get hurt last year, he would have played on offense.
There’s a lot to like about the front office moves the Giants have made this offseason to improve the offense. But the improvement of the wide receiver corps could be the key to a big-play, potent offense. Danny Dimes is working with all of them in the lead up to Camp which opens on July 27th. Football is almost here.