Trade Candidate: Darius Slayton

The Giants offense has the potential to look extremely different in 2024 than they did in 2023. The starkest change obviously came with star running back Saquon Barkley heading to division-rival Philadelphia. The departures also included those of backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor and backup running back Matt Breida, and there’s a chance that the team is not nearly done seeing players walk out the door.

One possible additional departure could be veteran tight end Darren Waller. After injuries limited him in each of the past three years, Waller has been seriously contemplating retirement. While the team was hoping for an update by the draft, that deadline came and went with no decision. The most recent report claims that Waller will inform the team of his intentions by the time the Giants dismiss players for the summer break.

The other potential departure is a bit less cut-and-dried. The more mercurial situation is that of the contract of veteran wide receiver Darius Slayton. The 27-year-old wideout is heading into his sixth year of NFL play and the second year of the two-year, $12MM contract he signed last year to remain in New York. With another contract-year on the horizon, Slayton has been playing hardball in his attempts to attain his third NFL deal.

In April, Slayton made it clear that he was staying away from the first phase of offseason workouts for the Giants, taking a note out of Courtland Sutton‘s book in Denver. That strategy can only work for so long, though, as missing any of the team’s mandatory minicamp in June will result in fines. Giants general manager Joe Schoen denied at that time that the team was engaging in any extension conversations, but Slayton claimed that his agent, Michael Perrett, was in negotiations with Schoen following the draft.

Slayton has excelled in his role after being drafted in the fifth-round out of Auburn in 2019. He exploded onto the scene as a rookie, leading the team in receiving yards (740) and touchdown receptions (8). Since then, Slayton has led the Giants in receiving yards while surpassing 700 yards in every season except for one injury-limiting 2021 campaign. While impressive as a rookie, his inability to improve on those numbers has been limiting to New York’s offensive potential.

While leading the team is certainly an accomplishment, it may also be more a mark on the talent of the team’s receivers. He’s hardly ever the most-targeted player on the team and has twice been targeted fewer times than a running back or tight end. He’s put up impressive numbers for a fifth-round pick catching balls off the arm of Daniel Jones, but he hasn’t nearly put up solid, WR1 numbers.

The results of the draft may play a key role in Slayton’s future, as well. The Giants utilized their No. 6 overall draft pick on LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers, who many believe has the potential to be a true No. 1 wideout. Nabers also has the potential to add to a youth movement that could make Slayton superfluous. Last year saw second-year receiver Wan’Dale Robinson start to break out, and rookie third-round pick Jalin Hyatt began earning some starting snaps in the back half of the season. The two could pair up with Nabers to form a receiving corps that doesn’t need to depend on Slayton to lead the team anymore.

These three factors — Slayton’s hold out strategy, his limited top-end production, and the potential youth movement at receiver — could push the veteran out of New York altogether. The Giants have yet to show that extending Slayton is a priority, and continuing to add young talent to the position room shows that he is not likely to become one.

There are plenty of teams who could use a receiver who could be a strong WR2. As we pointed out in our profile on Titans wideout Treylon Burks earlier this weekend, the Bills and Chargers are paramount on that list after each team watched top receivers (Stefon DiggsGabriel Davis and Keenan AllenMike Williams, respectively) depart in some fashion. The Steelers, Jets, and Ravens all have some question marks on the roster at those positions, as well, but each team would likely be wary of giving away too much for Slayton.

That is another factor for whether or not Slayton finds himself on the trading block. He may not bring in a massive return for New York. Still, even for only a late-round pick or two, shipping Slayton off may be the cleanest way out of overpaying Slayton as a subpar WR1. The team’s top receiver since his arrival in 2019 is set to represent a $8.15MM cap hit in 2024. Trading him away could result in $6.4MM of cap savings.

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