Month: April 2024

Steelers Still Looking For WR Help, Inquired About Brandon Aiyuk

Despite adding big names at quarterback like Russell Wilson and Justin Fields, the Steelers’ passing attack this year will still depend on their wide receiving corps. After trading away Diontae Johnson and watching Allen Robinson depart in free agency, Pittsburgh has been on a search for another veteran receiver to pair with budding star George Pickens, per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

It’s not like the Steelers haven’t addressed the position since Johnson and Robinson’s departures. The team has added experienced receivers like Van Jefferson and Quez Watkins, but despite strong sophomore campaigns from both players, neither has shown the ability to be a consistent, reliable supporting wide receiver. Perhaps Pittsburgh plans to return Cordarrelle Patterson to his wide receiver roots, but more likely, the team will continue looking to add an experienced veteran.

We’ve seen the Steelers kick the tires on plenty of such free agents so far this offseason. They brought in division-rival Tyler Boyd, who played at nearby Pitt in college, but are reportedly out of the running after making a disappointing offer. The team also brought in former Chargers veteran Mike Williams, who could’ve worked well alongside Pickens after spending years as WR2 behind Keenan Allen, but Williams ultimately landed with Aaron Rodgers and the Jets.

Now, Dulac reports that we can add Brandon Aiyuk to that list of veteran wideouts that have piqued the Steelers’ interest. Aiyuk is not a free agent, so this isn’t a situation in which Pittsburgh can host the 49ers receiver and evaluate him in person. Also, despite the two sides being far apart in extension negotiations, Aiyuk has not delivered a trade request to the 49ers. In fact, San Francisco is reportedly actively rebuffing trade inquiries from outside parties.

As much as the Steelers would like to lure Aiyuk to Pittsburgh, there’s only so much they can do without the 49ers deciding to relent and participate. Until then, Pittsburgh will have to continue taking swings elsewhere. Boyd remains available. As do free agents Hunter Renfrow, Odell Beckham Jr., Michael Gallup, and Michael Thomas. Several veteran names are sitting in free agency. The Steelers just need to determine if any are the right fit for their new-look offense.

Community Tailgate: Broncos, Raiders’ Quarterback Plans

With the Broncos and Raiders‘ most recent quarterback plans not working out, the AFC West presents a stark have/have-not disparity at the game’s glamour position. Going into the draft, Denver and Las Vegas have uphill climbs to find passers who could provide hope of matching up with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert.

Yes, the Broncos and Raiders have enjoyed some success against the Chiefs and Chargers (more so the Bolts) during these two Pro Bowlers’ stays. But this era of roster building has mandated either a franchise QB or a stacked roster is necessary to be a true contender. Denver and Las Vegas meet neither criteria, and the rivals’ current draft real estate does not leave clear paths to acquiring such help.

Holding the No. 12 pick, the Broncos did not match the Raiders’ urgency to add a bridge-type starter. The Raiders (No. 13) have Gardner Minshew signed to a two-year, $25MM deal ($15MM guaranteed). If they are unable to piece together a trade or do not see good value in picking one of the draft’s second-tier options, the Minshew bridge merely extends.

The Broncos, conversely, have only Jarrett Stidham — a player best known as the emergency starter as Derek Carr and then Russell Wilson were parked largely for contractual reasons — as a realistic starter option. While rumors about the Broncos being fine with Stidham beginning the season as the starter have emerged, it is difficult to envision Sean Payton entrusting the career backup/third-stringer to that role without a better option being acquired.

The Broncos are planning to add another arm via free agency or through a trade, but options are scarce at this point. As far as the draft goes, the team has been tied to Bo Nix and J.J. McCarthy. A recent report suggested a “heavy expectation” exists the Broncos will leave the first round with a QB, and while Denver has been viewed as wanting to trade up, the Payton and Wilson trades make this a dicey proposition.

Denver has not held a first-round pick since 2021 (Patrick Surtain). Unless the Broncos want to entertain trading their best player to help acquire draft assets, they would need to return to the treacherous road of trading first-round picks. Denver unloaded two in the Wilson swap and sent the Bradley Chubb-obtained choice to New Orleans for Payton’s rights. That Saints swap also stripped the Broncos of their 2024 second-rounder, creating a daunting task for the again-QB-needy club. Eating a record-smashing $85MM in dead money over the next two years on Wilson’s contract, the Broncos obviously would best benefit from a cost-controlled passer.

The Raiders do hold their second-round pick, but the player they have not made a great secret of coveting is viewed as unavailable. Reuniting Antonio Pierce and Jayden Daniels became a Raiders goal early this offseason, but ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter said this week a climb from No. 13 into Daniels territory is likely impossible. Michael Penix Jr. consolation-prize rumors have surfaced, and while the Washington product is seen by some coaches as having skills in line with this draft’s top QBs, scouts have seen some mechanical issues that could pose a problem for the deep-ball maestro’s NFL acclimation.

It also will be worth monitoring how serious the Raiders’ trade-up efforts will become in the days leading up to the draft. A recent report suggested Pierce was in favor of doing what it takes to move up the board for a long-term answer while GM Tom Telesco was OK with hanging onto draft assets and using Minshew as a full-season starter if need be. That will create an interesting backdrop ahead of the duo’s first draft together.

Trade routes for the Raiders and Broncos also stand to be complicated by the fact the Chargers sit in one of the spots that could be used to move up. At No. 4, the Cardinals hold prime real estate to collect a major haul from a QB-needy team. If the Cardinals opt to stay at 4 and draft a wide receiver, the Chargers suddenly become the gateway team. L.A. will probably not be inclined to help one of its two division rivals climb to 5 for a franchise-QB hopeful — at least, not without increasing the price tag. The Giants and Vikings also have the AFC West clubs outflanked in terms of draft assets, with New York sitting at No. 6 and Minnesota holding two first-rounders (Nos. 11 and 23).

With the 2025 draft class not viewed — as of now, at least — as rivaling this QB crop, the stakes could soon rise for the Broncos and Raiders. The teams have done their homework on this class, meeting with passers that will be difficult to impossible to obtain (Daniels, McCarthy). Nix, who profiles as a player the AFC West teams would not need to craft a monster trade haul for, also visited the Raiders. These teams coming out of Round 1 without a QB raises major questions about each’s viability.

Neither of these franchises has enjoyed much luck drafting QBs in Round 1. The Raiders made one of the biggest mistakes in draft history by selecting JaMarcus Russell first overall in 2007 (16 years after drafting quick bust Todd Marinovich). Like the Broncos, the best QBs in team history (Ken Stabler, Rich Gannon, Daryle Lamonica, Carr) were either outside additions or a second-round pick.

Denver’s history here is also checkered, with the franchise having traded 2006 first-rounder Jay Cutler after three years and made the strange moves of drafting a first-round QB ahead of John Elway‘s age-32 season (Tommy Maddox) and then trading up 18 spots to draft Tim Tebow in 2010. These decisions both provided more value than the 2016 Paxton Lynch whiff. Lynch is among the 12 QBs/Phillip Lindsay (the 2020 COVID-19 game against Payton’s Saints) to start for the Broncos since Peyton Manning‘s retirement.

Appearing to reside in the backseat among teams with chances of acquiring draft real estate necessary to acquire one of the class’ top arms, the Broncos and Raiders’ QB situations double as two of the top storylines going into the draft. How will the rival teams navigate their complex tasks of upgrading early in the draft? Weigh in with your thoughts on these situations in PFR’s latest Community Tailgate.

More Bill Belichick Fallout: Kraft, Falcons, Eagles, Cowboys, Giants, Commanders

Plenty has emerged in the wake of Bill Belichick going from eight-time Super Bowl champion to unemployed, but as the legendary coach regroups, some additional information about what went down in Atlanta — along with other teams’ coaching searches — has come to light.

Connecting some dots based on what has previously come out this offseason, ESPN.com’s Don Van Natta, Seth Wickersham and Jeremy Fowler report in an expansive piece that Falcons execs dissuaded Arthur Blank from hiring Belichick and Robert Kraft played a major role in the process that ended up veering away from an overqualified candidate who had initially appeared the favorite for the job Raheem Morris now has.

On the morning of the day Morris became the pick, Belichick still viewed himself as likely to land the job. Blank confirmed the 24-year Patriots HC did not ask him for personnel control, but power brokering — given Belichick’s outsized influence and experience — is believed to have still gone down in Atlanta’s front office. As a result, Belichick felt “blindsided” by the Morris hire.

CEO Rich McKay and GM Terry Fontenot did not want to work with Belichick, according to ESPN, which adds the six-time Super Bowl-winning HC was willing to work with the fourth-year GM (while confirming he and McKay’s less-than-stellar relationship). A previous report pointed to Belichick’s concern with Fontenot and the Falcons’ overall power structure. Fontenot, McKay and Falcons president Greg Beadles were part of the Falcons’ second Belichick interview.

Going so far as to reveal Falcons brass’ final rankings for the HC job, Fowler, Van Natta and Wickersham indicate Belichick did not finish in the top three for the Atlanta position. Beyond unanimous top choice Morris, Mike Macdonald and Texans OC Bobby Slowik respectively slotted second and third in this process.

Kraft is believed to have played a role in Blank backing off his initial hope to hire Belichick. A conversation between Blank and his longtime friend came after the Jan. 15 Blank-Belichick yacht meeting, and ESPN reports the Patriots owner warned the Falcons boss not to trust the accomplished HC.

Seeing as this comes during an offseason that has seen more information come out — via the much-discussed The Dynasty series — about Kraft’s issues with Belichick, it is hardly surprising the longtime Pats owner would provide such a warning. Robert Kraft, who considered ousting Belichick after 2022 (before son Jonathan Kraft advised against), referred to Belichick as “very, very, very arrogant, per ESPN. A Robert Kraft spokesman denied the owner, who was naturally complimentary of the game’s second-winningest HC upon the January separation, disparaged Belichick to Blank.

Belichick had already assembled a coaching staff, with some familiar names indeed believed to be part of it. Beyond plans to bring Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia and Joe Judge aboard, former Texans VP (and Patriots staffer) Jack Easterby was on the radar to be part of a Belichick Atlanta staff. Falcons execs expressed reservations about this staff, with ESPN adding Blank also questioned why this group failed elsewhere. Belichick reportedly responded by saying this group was comprised of “better soldiers than generals.” Judge has since joined Lane Kiffin’s Ole Miss staff. The Texans moved on from Easterby in 2022.

New Commanders GM Adam Peters, a Patriots scout in the 2000s, discussed the HC position with Belichick. Minority owner Magic Johnson pushed for Washington to hire the Maryland native, but Josh Harris — who spoke to Kraft about Belichick in December — had decided he would not make that move. We had heard previously the NBA and NHL owner wanted a more collaborative approach, which many current NFL owners prefer, rather than handing the keys to one person. With Harris wanting a front office-oriented leadership structure, Peters has final say on Commanders football matters. Belichick was not interested in the Chargers.

The three other NFC East HC jobs may well be open in 2025, and ESPN notes Belichick would be interested in the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants positions — should they open up. The Eagles did work on Belichick before determining Nick Sirianni would stay, with Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman viewed as fans of the future Hall of Famer, and the former has been close with Jerry Jones for many years. Lurie looks to have joined the Falcons in expressing hesitancy in greenlighting a Belichick move that would bring major changes while qualifying as a short-term fix.

Belichick, who turned 72 on Tuesday, is now six years older than the oldest HC ever hired (Bruce Arians). Any team that considers a 2025 hire would be adding someone who will turn 73 before coaching his next NFL game.

A Belichick confidant also expressed doubt the former Giants DC would earn another HC job unless Jones signs off on a Cowboys hire. Mike McCarthy‘s lame-duck status will keep Belichick rumors going, it would seem, but for now, a TV gig appears in the works. Belichick is expected to join Peyton Manning‘s Omaha Productions for analysis-based work. ESPN’s Pat McAfee also announced Belichick will be part of his show’s draft coverage (video link).

Fifteen wins shy of Don Shula‘s career record, Belichick is believed to have informed allies he expects to land at least one interview next year. While the NFC East jobs are worth monitoring, the bumps the Patriot Way has taken — coupled with Belichick’s age and implied threat to organizations’ status quos — leave it far from certain he will have a third opportunity to lead an NFL team.

Extension Talks Underway Between Jaguars, QB Trevor Lawrence

We mentioned back in February that extension talks between the Jaguars and former No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence were expected to begin. Yesterday, thanks to Grant Gordon of NFL.com, we learned that those conversations have been taking place lately, according to Lawrence.

Lawrence’s road to NFL stardom got off to a rough start after he led the league in interceptions as a rookie. He rebounded in his sophomore campaign, leading the Jaguars to the playoffs and captaining an incredible comeback win over the Chargers in the Wild Card round. 2023 saw a bit of a fall back down to reality, but Lawrence is unconcerned about last season or what it could mean for his new potential contract. According to Lawrence, the extension is not at the forefront of his mind.

“There’s definitely been some conversations as far as where that’s at now,” Lawrence told the media earlier this week. “It’s not really my focus. I’d love to obviously be a Jag for as long as possible…But…going into my fourth year, it’s not like this is necessarily going to be my last season.”

Lawrence is referring to the fifth-year option included in the rookie contracts of all first-round picks. Jacksonville has yet to make a determination, something it will be required to do this offseason, but it’s a near guarantee that the team will pick up his option, giving them this year and potentially next year, as well, to work out a long-term contract.

Regardless of when it occurs, Lawrence appears focused on the work at hand. “It’s not really my focus right now. At the end of the day, my job isn’t going to change whether I get extended or not before this season. My job is to go win games and to be the best I can be for this team so we can have a chance to win the Super Bowl. Even if I get the contract extension, that’s still my job. Even more so. There’s even more expectation and pressure on that. For me, I have the same focus and the same mindset.”

While Lawrence is excited about the potential of earning his first big NFL contract, the 24-year-old is being realistic about what it will take to get the money he desires. “I can’t lie. Obviously, it would be nice to have that done and feel good about it, but no, it’s not really the focus right now,” he said. “I know where we’re at, I know where we’re heading, and I know what I have to do. I know there’s some improvements that I have to make going forward.”

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/17/24

Here are some minor moves from around the NFL today:

Cleveland Browns

Miami Dolphins

Seattle Seahawks

  • Placed on reserve/retired list: P Jon Ryan

Murray has been a journeyman lineman since going undrafted out of Cincinnati in 2016. While his most productive season came over three years with the Cardinals during which he started 20 games in 30 appearances, Murray has spent time in Denver, Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Oakland, Buffalo, Las Vegas, and Tennessee. Most recently, he signed to the Browns’ practice squad midseason last year before signing a reserve/futures contract in January. Instead of competing for a roster spot, Murray will join wide receiver Rashard Higgins and linebacker Christian Kirksey in retirement.

Brown, a former sixth round pick out of Penn State, has spent his rookie contract as a core special teamer for the Giants. He’ll attempt to earn a bigger role in Miami in 2024.

After a 12-year NFL career, including 10 straight seasons with the Seahawks, Ryan found himself off of a roster following his 36-year-old season in 2017. Determined to continue playing, Ryan has continued punting, and excelling, in the Canadian Football League over the past few years. Now 42 years old, Ryan seems to have finally resigned to end his football career. He’ll retire a Seahawk.

RB J.K. Dobbins To Sign With Chargers

It’s a full Baltimore reunion in Los Angeles this offseason. After former Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman brought in a familiar face at running back in former Raven Gus Edwards, the Chargers will now be adding Edwards’ former backfield teammate J.K. Dobbins, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Dobbins joins the Chargers on a one-year deal.

Dobbins, a former second-round pick for the Ravens out of Ohio State, will likely be one of the bigger cases of “what if” in Baltimore’s recent history. Dobbins came to Baltimore following quarterback Lamar Jackson‘s unanimous MVP season in which the team went 14-2. With veteran Mark Ingram getting into his 30’s, Dobbins was brought in to add an exciting, young kick to the run game.

In his rookie season, Dobbins gave a small taste of the production he was capable of. Splitting the backfield with Edwards nearly 50-50, Dobbins led the team in rushing touchdowns (9) and led the running backs room in rushing yards (805) while averaging an impressive 6.0 yards per carry. A promising follow-up sophomore campaign was put to an end before it could even begin when Dobbins suffered a torn ACL in the team’s final preseason game, taking him out for the entire 2021 season.

Injuries continued to dog Dobbins into the 2022 season. He came back from his torn ACL in Week 3 of that year but saw limited use and production as the Ravens played it a bit safe early. After feeling some knee tightness in Week 6, though, Dobbins returned to injured reserve in order to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery. Dobbins made his second return of the season in Week 14 and announced his reemergence with a bang, eclipsing 120 rushing yards in each of his first two games back. A Tyler Huntley-led version of the offense rode Dobbins to a first half lead in their Wild Card game before seemingly abandoning that gameplan in the loss.

The Ravens were excited to finally field an offense with a healthy backfield featuring Jackson, Dobbins, and Edwards in 2023. An extension for Dobbins was even very much on the table for the Ravens. Unfortunately, the worst-case scenario occurred in the team’s season opener when Dobbins suffered a torn Achilles tendon, his second season-ending injury in three years.

Now, after a tough going over his rookie contract, Dobbins will hope to turn a new corner with a new team. He had visited Los Angeles and Kansas City and was thought to be a favorite to sign with the Chiefs before they opted to re-sign Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Talent has never been the issue when considering Dobbins as a free agent. The corny saying applies here: his biggest ability moving forward will be his availability.

The Chargers are well set up to accommodate any setbacks for Dobbins. With Edwards on the roster, Los Angeles can function in quite the same way as Baltimore did with the two. They will be able to utilize Dobbins as much as they desire while relying on the much sturdier Edwards to produce regardless. Dobbins should be getting the best of both worlds here: a second chance with a change of scenery while still be supported by familiar faces that he knows he works well with. If he doesn’t fit in LA, it’s only a one-year audition before he returns to free agency.

Seahawks Meet With RB Rashaad Penny

A new coaching staff is running the show in Seattle, but GM John Schneider remains in place. The longtime GM, who now holds top decision-making authority, will have his new staff take a look at one of his former first-round picks.

Rashaad Penny made a trip back to Seattle for a visit Wednesday, according to Cardinals Wire’s Howard Balzer. Penny spent last season with the Eagles but was with the Seahawks for the first five years of his career. The 2018 first-rounder now profiles as a depth option.

A nonfactor in Philadelphia, Penny enjoyed spurts of success — most notably the 2021 stretch run — in Seattle. But injuries have plagued the San Diego State alum for most of his career. Turning 28 earlier this year, Penny figures to be running short on chances. The Seahawks obviously know him well, though Mike Macdonald‘s coaching crew is certainly less familiar.

The Seahawks rostered Penny and Chris Carson for four years, but the latter’s career-ending injury sustained early during the 2021 season left the younger back a path to more playing time. Penny capitalized late that season, eclipsing 130 rushing yards in four of the Seahawks’ final five games. For the ’21 season, Penny averaged a league-high 6.3 yards per carry. That, however, came in just 10 games. Penny injuries limited him in his best season, and the past two have not featured much success.

Penny re-signed with the Seahawks on a one-year, $5MM deal in 2022 but was not available to work with Ken Walker in a rotation for too long. A fractured fibula — along with tibia damage and a high ankle sprain — limited Penny to five games in 2022. In five Seahawks years, Penny missed 40 regular-season games. The Eagles brought in Penny on a one-year, $1.35MM deal in 2023. They soon traded for D’Andre Swift. With Kenneth Gainwell serving as the ex-Lion’s backup — in a backfield also housing longtime contributor Boston Scott — Penny did not see much action. Playing in just three games, Penny logged only 11 carries last season.

While this coaching staff did not work with Penny during Pete Carroll’s tenure, new OC Ryan Grubb — for what it’s worth — was a Fresno State assistant during Penny’s time as a standout in the Mountain West Conference. The 220-pound back’s stock has dropped in the years since, and the Seahawks have used second-round picks on two backs — Walker and Zach Charbonnet — in each of the past two years. The team did lose four-year contributor DeeJay Dallas to the Cardinals this offseason, which will undoubtedly lead to a depth addition soon.

Mark Davis Prefers To Pair Davante Adams With Next Raiders QB

Earlier this afternoon, we looked into the situations surrounding the Raiders and Broncos’ paths to a quarterback upgrade in this draft. The Broncos are limited with draft capital, which has drawn speculation they could consider moving Patrick Surtain. The Raiders have a chip to dangle as well, if they so choose.

Tom Telesco said earlier this offseason he was not planning to make Davante Adams available in trades, but the All-Pro wide receiver has come up on a few occasions before. And he would make sense as an asset the Raiders could unload if they truly sought to move near the top of the draft.

Adams said from his youth football camp recently if he wanted to be gone he would indeed be out. While he is now 31 and on a Raiders team in transition, the former Packers star is viewed as a player Mark Davis wants to keep. Although Adams could potentially be used to help the Raiders add draft capital to then make a move up the board, the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora notes Davis is believed to “strongly prefer” Adams be retained to pair with a young quarterback.

It is not yet known if the Raiders will come away from the draft with a passer positioned to eventually take over for Gardner Minshew, though Michael Penix Jr. is coming up as a potential Jayden Daniels consolation prize. A rookie-QB contract would also pair better with Adams’ $28MM-per-year accord compared to those of Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Adams was among the players who stumped for Antonio Pierce this winter. Josh Jacobs joined him, though the former rushing champion is now gone. Three seasons remain on Adams’ contract, which contains a full guarantee for his 2024 base salary ($16.89MM). Beyond this year, no guarantees remain. That will make Adams easier to move, though the compensation the Raiders could acquire will stand to decrease as the veteran standout ages.

Accumulating draft capital would be the only benefit for the Raiders in an Adams trade; moving the 11th-year veteran would cost them $23.6MM in dead money while bringing back next to no cap savings. Of course, a long-term QB move would dwarf the importance of Adams on this year’s roster. Another Adams trade was once rumored to be likely this offseason, but as the draft nears, signs are pointing against the Raiders moving their top pass catcher.

Giants’ Darius Slayton Staying Away From Workouts, Seeking New Deal

Darius Slayton went from needing to take a pay cut on his rookie contract to leading a playoff team in receiving. The former fifth-round pick repeated that feat last year. Slayton is no stranger to being Daniel Jones‘ top target; he has led the Giants in receiving in four of his five NFL seasons.

Attached to a two-year, $12MM deal that calls for a $2.5MM 2024 base salary, Slayton is staying away from the first phase of Giants offseason workouts. The sixth-year wideout is seeking a new contract, ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan reports.

This comes shortly after it became known Courtland Sutton, who effectively leapfrogged Jerry Jeudy to become the Broncos’ No. 1 target once again last season, was staying away in hopes of a better deal. Neither receiver can be fined for being absent from offseason workouts until the teams’ respective June minicamps. Unlike Sutton, Slayton is signed for only one more season; he is due for free agency once again in 2025.

Slayton, 27, responded to the Giants’ late-summer pay cut by leading the 2022 team in receiving by more than 150 yards. With the Giants missing badly on wide receiver investments Kenny Golladay (free agency) and Kadarius Toney (Round 1) in 2021, Slayton became vital for Brian Daboll‘s first roster. The Giants lost Sterling Shepard and Wan’Dale Robinson to season-ending injuries that year, increasing their reliance on Slayton, who went from being buried on the depth chart to accumulating 724 yards to boost the ’22 team to the divisional round.

The Giants circled back to Slayton in free agency, giving him that $12MM deal to go with a Shepard re-signing and a Parris Campbell addition. The latter two wideouts made little impact last season, and Slayton continued to be Big Blue’s top receiver. Even with Darren Waller acquired, Slayton led last year’s team (770 yards) by nearly 200. In his prime earning period, Slayton will make an early attempt to do better ahead of Year 6.

Like Sutton, Slayton has been consistently in the 700-yard range. Slayton has four 700-plus-yard seasons but no 1,000-yard years. Similarly to Sutton, Slayton has not enjoyed great circumstances. Jones’ $40MM-per-year contract notwithstanding, he has not given the Giants a strong option at quarterback. Issues along the offensive line have hurt the team, but Jones has just one QBR season in the top 16 and has cleared 15 TD passes in one of his five campaigns. Slayton leading the team with his run of 700-yard years is emblematic of the Giants’ aerial struggles. The Giants have not boasted a 1,000-yard receiver since Odell Beckham Jr. in 2018.

The Giants, of course, do not have to adjust Slayton’s contract. And the 6-foot-1 target’s place in the Giants’ receiver hierarchy may soon change, should the team address its receiver need by using the No. 6 overall pick on one of this draft’s top options. An offense featuring Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze would shift Slayton to the WR2 role. Unless this Giants regime has come around on Slayton — after reducing his pay from 2.54MM to $985K two years ago — the Dave Gettleman-era draftee may need to prove it again ahead of free agency in 2025. Harrison, Nabers and Odunze each visited the Giants in March.

If the Giants draft one of the top three receivers, Slayton would undoubtedly see his role change. The team used a third-round pick on outside option Jalin Hyatt, and Robinson remains under contract for slot work. Unlike Jones, Slayton would stand to benefit from the Giants using the No. 6 pick to trade up for a quarterback while tabling their receiver need to Day 2.

Cardinals Not Committed To Trading Out Of No. 4; Team Eyeing Marvin Harrison Jr.?

Viewed by many as the gateway for the Giants or Vikings (or Broncos or Raiders) to trade up for a quarterback, the Cardinals’ No. 4 draft slot could certainly bring back a nice haul for a rebuilding team.

This Cardinals regime did opt to move down last year, but rookie GM Monti Ossenfort decided to come back up to draft Paris Johnson Jr. at No. 6. Arizona has intriguing options coming into the draft, as offers should be expected to come in for its first-round pick. But the team is not committed to moving down, per SI.com’s Albert Breer.

[RELATED: Cardinals Open To Moving Down From No. 4]

Staffers around the league are not convinced this is an automatic trade-down team, with Breer then pointing to Marvin Harrison Jr. as a player who would be a “wheelhouse pick” for a Cardinals team that needs to upgrade at wide receiver. Amid an unusually structured pre-draft program, Harrison visited the Cardinals recently. Of course, these rumblings could also be a call for other teams to up the ante in trade proposals. But Arizona obviously needs WR help.

Having cut DeAndre Hopkins last year and having seen Marquise Brown join the Chiefs in free agency — after the 2022 trade acquisition discussed an extension last year — the Cardinals are in dire need of weaponry for Kyler Murray. Viewed by many as the draft’s best non-quarterback, Harrison would qualify as the team’s biggest receiver investment since the 2004 draft brought Larry Fitzgerald to the desert at No. 3 overall. Trading Rondale Moore for Desmond Ridder, the Cardinals have 2023 third-rounder Michael Wilson, Zach Pascal, Chris Moore and ERFA Greg Dortch as their top receivers. It is within reason the team will want to add more than one player here during the draft.

Harrison made the rare move of not participating at the Combine or Ohio State’s pro day, communicating to teams a plan to train for an NFL offseason rather than pre-draft workouts. Teams are believed to have been fine with the second-generation wide receiver standout’s plan — one that illustrates how well-regarded his college tape is — and Breer adds Buckeyes coaches are believed to have clocked the 6-foot-3, 209-pound player in 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

The top-tier WR prospect would check off a key box for the Cardinals, who had been linked to Johnson before last year’s draft. Arizona collected a 2023 second-rounder and 2024 first- and third-round picks from Houston in moving from 3 to 12 last year. It cost the Cards their own 2023 second-rounder and a 2023 fifth to move back up to 6 for Johnson. But Arizona later moved down in Round 2 to pick up more draft capital, giving Tennessee Will Levis.

Due to the deals with the AFC South clubs, the Cardinals go into this draft with two first-round picks, a second and three thirds. If the Cardinals are willing to move out of No. 4 and then trade back up (perhaps with the Chargers at 5), Ossenfort could forge a near-identical trade route and still end up with Harrison.

That best-of-both-worlds scenario would stand to appeal to a Cardinals team still squarely in rebuild mode. If the team takes an offer from the Giants or Vikings (or someone else) and does not opt to move back up, it would risk — barring a drop to New York’s No. 6 slot — missing out on the Harrison-Rome OdunzeMalik Nabers WR tier (the Washington and LSU prospects also visited). But this is viewed as another deep receiver draft, putting the Cardinals in a good spot no matter how they proceed.