Although the Giants’ setup was not exactly conducive to impressive receiving statistics last season, Kenny Golladay has not rebounded from his disappointing 2021 slate. The Giants have reduced the high-priced veteran’s playing time significantly.
The former two-time 1,000-yard receiver played just two snaps in the Giants’ Week 2 win over the Panthers, seeing his usage plummet drastically from a 46-snap opener in Tennessee. With the Giants’ new regime not being the staff that authorized Golladay’s four-year, $72MM contract, the ex-Lions standout faces an uncertain Big Apple future.
Golladay, 28, joins Darius Slayton in failing to impress Brian Daboll‘s coaching staff. Long a trade candidate, Slayton has played four offensive snaps this season. The Giants’ 2019 and 2020 receiving leader took a pay cut, one that essentially negated his proven performance escalator contract-year bump, to stay on the team. But a Giants team seemingly flush with receiving talent has not seen too much from that contingent, beyond Sterling Shepard bouncing back early from his 2021 Achilles tear.
The team appears interested in shaking up the situation. Daboll has FaceTimed with free agent wideouts, according to ProFootballNetwork.com’s Aaron Wilson. Help is limited at this point on the NFL calendar, and the Giants do have a highly touted player acquired by their current regime — second-round pick Wan’Dale Robinson — preparing to make his debut. Robinson has missed the team’s first two games due to injury. Daboll passed on a Cole Beasley reunion; the ex-Bills slot joined the Buccaneers on Tuesday. Will Fuller and Odell Beckham Jr., an unrealistic Big Apple return candidate, headline the available receivers. As it stands, Big Blue’s wideout situation has produced some interesting on-field configurations early in Daboll’s run.
Daboll informed Golladay last week the team was effectively benching him for David Sills, a 2019 Bills UDFA who landed with the Giants later that year. Despite Daboll’s former team not having room for the Delaware product three years ago, this reunion has led to the most work of the young player’s career. Sills played 67 offensive snaps against the Panthers, catching three passes for 37 yards. Sills primarily worked alongside Shepard and Richie James, who led the Giants in receiving with five catches for 51 yards last week.
“I told him during the week that we were going to go with Sills,” Daboll said of Golladay’s demotion. “He acted like a pro. I said, ‘Be ready to go.’ Does that mean it’s going to be next week? No. It takes a lot of mental toughness, too. That’s not an easy thing to hear. I appreciate them being professional.”
A 2019 Pro Bowler, Golladay is known more for his contested-catch abilities than separation skills. The 6-foot-4 target drew interest from the Bears, Ravens, Dolphins and Bengals during the 2021 free agency period — one overshadowed by the COVID-19-induced salary cap drop — and signed with the Giants on a deal that included $28MM fully guaranteed and doubled as the top contract given to a UFA wideout last year. In an offense that saw both an OC change (from Jason Garrett to Freddie Kitchens) and Daniel Jones‘ injury give way to overmatched backups Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm, Golladay caught 37 passes for 521 yards and no touchdowns.
He did not put together a good offseason this year — one that featured an unspecified surgery — and is an obvious 2023 release candidate. For now, Golladay’s contract makes such a move prohibitive. The Giants can get out of the deal with a $7.9MM 2023 dead-money hit, should they designate Golladay as a post-June 1 cut. Golladay’s $21.2MM cap hit is not only tops among Giants; it ranks as the league’s eighth-highest 2022 cap number.
Golladay’s swift decline comes as the Giants are barely using 2021 first-rounder Kadarius Toney. The oft-injured wideout played seven snaps in the team’s opener and caught two passes for zero yards in Week 2. The Giants hoped to involve Toney more in Week 2, per Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post, but a hamstring tweak changed those plans. Toney still played more against the Panthers (28 snaps), however. Trade rumors encircled Toney this spring, and though those quieted quickly, the Dave Gettleman-era draftee’s status rounds out one of the league’s more interesting position groups through two weeks.