Kadarius Toney

Giants’ Daniel Jones To Start In Week 6

FRIDAY: Jones cleared the protocol Friday. He is no longer on the Giants’ injury report and is set to make his return against the Rams this week.

The third-year quarterback will also have Sterling Shepard available. After missing two weeks with a hamstring injury, Shepard is good to go for Sunday. The injuries Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay sustained against Dallas will shelve them against Los Angeles, however. The team has listed Kadarius Toney and Darius Slayton as questionable for Week 6. Toney managed three limited practices this week, making him a reasonable bet to play.

THURSDAY: Despite getting knocked out of last weekend’s loss to the Cowboys with a concussion, Daniel Jones could be on the field for Sunday’s game against the Rams. Coach Joe Judge told reporters that his starting QB is “on track with everything” as he looks to clear concussion protocol (via ESPN’s Jordan Raanan).

Jones completed five of his 13 pass attempts before exiting Sunday’s loss. Following a helmet-to-helmet hit, Jones stumbled off the field before getting carted to the locker room. Jones is currently in concussion protocol, and he was ruled out of practice on Wednesday. However, he was seen participating in work outs on a side field.

That would seemingly open the door to Jones clearing concussion protocol and playing on Sunday. Even if the QB doesn’t see the field this week at practice, Judge indicated that his starter could still be in the lineup against Los Angeles (per Raanan).

The former first-round pick has had an unremarkable start to the 2021 campaign, completing 64.3-percent of his passes for 1,282 yards, four touchdowns, and only one interception. He’s also added another 197 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. If the 24-year-old isn’t able to play this weekend, Mike Glennon would be under center for the Giants. The veteran made his first appearance of the season in Week 5, completing 16 of his 25 pass attempts for 196 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/22/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Jacksonville Jaguars

New York Giants

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Poll: Which Rookie Wide Receiver Will Finish With Most Receiving Yards?

This past week we asked you which rookie running back would finish with the most yards in 2021, and now we’re turning our attention to the wide receivers. This year’s wideout class was a great one, with three going in the top ten picks.

Two more then went later in the first round, and then five were off the board in the second. The crop included reigning Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, and LSU star Ja’Marr Chase who was reunited in Cincinnati with college teammate Joe Burrow.

Chase became the first receiver off the board when the Bengals nabbed him with the fifth overall pick. He should already have great chemistry with Burrow, so he’s got that working in his favor. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are still there, but the team moving on from A.J. Green this offseason means Chase should see plenty of opportunity right away. Will his rapport with Burrow and a potentially improved Cincy O-line be enough for him to seize the rookie receiving title?

The following pick, the Dolphins took Jaylen Waddle from Alabama at number six. Waddle is also reconnecting with an old college quarterback as he’ll re-team with Tua Tagovailoa in Miami. His blazing fast speed gives him plenty of upside, although working against him is the fact that he missed a good chunk of the 2020 season due to injury. Will Fuller will have to sit out the first game of the 2021 season with a suspension, but DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki will also be competing for targets.

Smith *also* is getting paired back up with a familiar face under center. The Heisman winner played with Eagles second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts at Alabama. Despite winning the award for best college football player in the country, Smith was the third wideout taken. Will he use that as added motivation and come out with a chip on his shoulder? He certainly shouldn’t struggle for playing time with Philly’s receiving depth chart being thin as ever. Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham, and Greg Ward Jr. are all he has to compete with.

The other two first-rounders were Kadarius Toney from Florida to the Giants at 20 and Rashod Bateman from Minnesota to the Ravens at 27. Toney surprised New York by skipping OTAs and apparently might begin the year in a gadget role as he’s buried behind Sterling Shepard, Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, and Evan Engram in the pecking order, so he’s got his work cut out for him. Bateman has a path to a breakout with Baltimore in desperate need of receiving help, but the Ravens’ passing game is going to be a wild card.

Elijah Moore was the next big name, with the Ole Miss product going to the Jets at 34. He’s also got upside, but has a few guys ahead of him and will have a rookie quarterback throwing to him. Rondale Moore (Purdue) to the Cardinals at 49, D’Wayne Eskridge (Western Michigan) to the Seahawks at 56, Tutu Atwell (Louisville) to the Rams at 57, and Terrace Marshall Jr. (LSU) to the Panthers at 59 round out the rest of the round two receivers.

So, what do you think? Which receiver will rack up the most yards in 2021? Who are the later-round candidates or UDFAs who can join these players as early contributors? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Cowboys, Giants, Toney, Bears

Most of the talk about Cowboys quarterbacks this offseason has understandably revolved around Dak Prescott, his new contract, and his comeback from a devastating ankle injury. But flying a bit under the radar is the team’s unsettled backup QB situation. Last year the team had an established veteran backup in Andy Dalton, who ended up becoming the starter when Prescott went down. Dalton is off in Chicago now, leaving Dallas with very little on the depth chart. The team currently has only Garrett Gilbert, Cooper Rush, and Ben DiNucci behind Prescott.

Rush has thrown three career passes, and DiNucci (a 2020 seventh-rounder) and Gilbert have each made one start. That’s led to some speculation the Cowboys could add a veteran backup. Barring a bigger name veteran addition, Gilbert is currently the “favorite” to backup Prescott in 2021, Rob Phillips of the team’s official site writes. Phillips frames it as a battle between Gilbert and Rush without even mentioning DiNucci, who was disastrous in his lone 2020 start in primetime against the Eagles. Gilbert almost led Dallas to an upset victory over the Steelers in his one start last year, and was a star in the ill-fated AAF.

Here’s more from around the NFC as we kickoff the new week and continue to await training camps:

  • Elsewhere in the NFC East, it sounds like the Giants are scheming up various ways to get Kadarius Toney involved as a rookie. New York has Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton already at receiver, so it might be hard for the 20th overall pick of this past draft to get heavy targets right away. That doesn’t mean Toney won’t get touches. The Giants are “motivated to get the ball in his hands, whether it’s out of the backfield, on jet sweeps, screen passes or maybe in the Wildcat formation,” Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com writes. Raanan writes they want him to be a year-one factor, and that “they believe the best way to make that happen is to tap into his versatility.” In other words, use him as a gadget player. The Florida product should be fun to watch.
  • Heading down to the NFC South, Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown may have just had his probation terminated early to close his previous criminal case, but he still has civil case headaches to deal with. In addition to a lawsuit from a truck driver alleging assault that came in mid-May, Brown was apparently hit with another lawsuit later that month. This time, it’s from a sports marketing company alleging that Brown didn’t pay them commission on $2MM in earnings they got him, Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The company, KCB Marketing, is seeking over $100K in damages.

WR Rumors: Jones, Toney, Giants, OBJ

Julio Jones trade rumors first surfaced because the Falcons identified his contract as a way to create much-needed cap space, but later reports indicated the decorated receiver requested a trade out of Atlanta in March. Traded to the Titans for a package headlined by a second-round pick, Jones described his Falcons divorce as mutual.

We discussed everything. We just made the decision,” Jones said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was just cut and dry. There was nothing toward football; it’s business. So, you just had to accept whatever happens, happens. Like I said, it was a mutual agreement on it. We just split up.”

The 32-year-old wide receiver built a Hall of Fame resume in Georgia and, for a bit this spring, was slated to team with Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. But this reality never appeared to be on the table. Jones did, in fact, request a trade in March, Ledbetter adds. The All-Pro target said his Atlanta exit did not come about because of the team’s transition from the Dan Quinn era to an Arthur Smith-led staff. The Titans agreed to take on all of Jones’ $15.3MM guaranteed 2021 salary, separating them from the rest of the trade suitors.

Here is the latest wide receiver news from around the league:

  • Odell Beckham Jr. skipped much of the Browns‘ 2019 offseason program and did not work out with Baker Mayfield during the COVID-19-marred 2020 offseason. Beckham was rehabbing an offseason surgery at that point. Despite having torn an ACL Oct. 25 of last year, OBJ joined Jarvis Landry in working out with Mayfield in Austin this week, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal notes. Landry confirmed Beckham was running routes at Mayfield’s workouts, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A lack of chemistry between Beckham and Mayfield has been evident during their 1 1/2 seasons together; extra reps should help ahead of a key season for the former Pro Bowl wide receiver. The Browns, who have seen many veterans stay away from OTAs, will convene for minicamp next week.
  • Kadarius Toney also avoided his team’s OTAs, skipping the Giants‘ pre-minicamp workouts. The first-round pick doing so surprised the team, Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Toney did not sign his rookie contract until last week but had inked a waiver to protect himself in case of an injury during OTAs. Rookies often work out with their teams before signing their deals. Toney’s four-year, $13.7MM contract is fully guaranteed.
  • Shortly after the Giants selected Toney 20th overall, Joe Judge called Sterling Shepard to discuss his future with the team, per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. “I thought it was necessary to talk to Shep specifically because when we drafted Toney, the word in the press as he was reading those headlines was specifically he’s a slot receiver,” Judge said. “Which, look, we are not bringing in someone to play one position. I thought it was relevant at the time to contact Shep out of respect for how he is with our program to communicate that with him.” Shepard is the longest-tenured Giant, arriving during the Jerry Reese regime. Although Shepard is signed through 2023, the Giants can create more than $6MM in cap space by moving on from him next year. The sixth-year veteran is expected to play more in the slot, following Kenny Golladay‘s arrival, after working there a career-low 34% of the time in 2020.

Giants Sign Kadarius Toney

The Giants have inked first-round receiver Kadarius Toney, per a club announcement. The Florida product will earn $13.7MM on his four-year deal. Of course, as a first-round pick, the Giants will also hold a team option for a fifth season down the road.

The Giants were initially set to pick at No. 11, but they traded their way back to No. 20 to take Toney instead. The move continued the Giants streak of taking an offensive player in the first round – they’ve done so in each of the last five years.

After playing quarterback in high school, it took some time for Toney to find his role on Florida’s offense. He played in mostly a backup role through his first three seasons in college, but he finally had a breakout campaign in 2020. He finished out with 1,145 total yards from scrimmage and eleven touchdowns — mostly through the air, but also with a decent number of carries. With 70 grabs for 984 yards, he averaged an efficient 14.1 yards per catch. That caught the attention of evaluators everywhere, including GM Dave Gettleman.

Toney projects to be a slot receiver in the NFL, but his Swiss Army Knife profile offers him an even greater upside. He’ll have time to learn, too, given the presence of newcomer Kenny Golladay plus John RossDarius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, and Dante Pettis.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Draft Notes: Browns, Jaguars, Broncos

Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah had one of the most surprising tumbles of the draft. Widely expected to be a first-rounder, he ended up falling to the Browns with the 52nd overall pick after Cleveland traded up to get him. Apparently, the Browns almost pulled the trigger a round earlier. Cleveland mulled taking him with their first-rounder, the 26th overall pick. “He was definitely under consideration,” exec Paul DePodesta said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal.

We certainly didn’t expect him to be there when he was, but we’re fortunate that he was,” GM Andrew Berry added. “There was a lot of pacing going on upstairs once we got to about pick 42, 43, 44, just trying to figure out if there was a way we could make it happen,” DePodesta explained of the trade up. The Browns needed linebacker help, so it was the perfect situation. Not only was Owusu-Koramoah the ACC Defensive Player of the Year last season, he was also a unanimous All-American.

Here’s more fallout from this weekend’s draft in the AFC:

  • The Jaguars reunited Trevor Lawrence with his college running back by drafting Travis Etienne 25th overall, but it sounds like they would’ve preferred someone else. On Friday head coach Urban Meyer said there was a player who “broke our heart” that they couldn’t draft, and on Saturday he revealed who that was. The team was hoping to pick Florida receiver Kadarius Toney, Meyer said, via John Shipley of Jaguar Report (Twitter link). It’s rare for a coach or GM to openly say something like that, so they must’ve really wanted him. Meyer called the Florida star a “human highlight reel,” and highlighted his relationship with current Gators coach Dan Mullen as to how he’d gotten close to Toney. Unfortunately for Meyer, the Giants nabbed Toney at 20th overall.
  • The Broncos drafted a small school prospect a lot of fans were high on when they took Quinn Meinerz from Wisconsin-Whitewater in the third-round. Meinerz played guard in college, but it looks like Denver is going to switch him to the pivot for pro development. Meinerz will start out playing center, head coach Vic Fangio said, via Mike Klis of Denver 9 News (Twitter link). As Klis points out, he’ll be behind 2020 third-rounder Lloyd Cushenberry on the depth chart.