Giants Rumors

Latest On Kadarius Toney, Sterling Shepard

  • 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’ Sam Beal Pleads Guilty To Gun Charges

Giants cornerback Sam Beal pleaded guilty to a pair of gun charges, as NJ.com’s Zack Rosenblatt writes. The charges stemmed from a June 2020 arrest in Ohio. Now, he’ll be on probation through June of next year. 

Beal was arrested roughly one year ago today after cops pulled him over and found him with a concealed weapon. One charge is for illegal carrying; the other is for improper handling of the gun. He was also cited for marijuana possession and a traffic violation.

The Giants took a chance on Beal by taking him in the third-round of the supplemental draft in 2018. However, he was forced to redshirt his rookie year after shoulder surgery. There was some talk that Beal could start in 2019, but a hamstring issue cost him most of training camp and the entire preseason and the club was forced to place him on injured reserve in September. Then, he opted out of the 2020 season.

Beal’s odds of making the Giants’ cut this year weren’t looking too great, especially since he joined the club before the arrival of head coach Joe Judge. The legal issues won’t help matters.

If the Giants cut ties, it’ll go down as one of Dave Gettleman‘s biggest misses in recent years. By using a 2018 third-round supplemental pick on Beal, the Giants coughed up their 2019 third-rounder in the regular draft. All in all, Beal has played just six times across three seasons.

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Giants RB Saquon Barkley Not Focused On Next Contract

Saquon Barkley‘s rookie deal is set to expire following the 2022 season, but the Giants running back isn’t worried about a lack of an extension. When asked if he’d play the upcoming season without a new deal, the former second-overall pick made it clear that he’s only focused about what’s on the field.

[RELATED: Latest On Giants’ Saquon Barkley Plans]

“When it comes to the contract situation that’s not even something that’s crossing my mind,” Barkley said (via Pat Leonard of New York Daily News on Twitter). “I have an amazing agent. Those are things I have conversations with her about. But for me right now, the only thing I’m focusing on is coming here today, working my butt off, and trying to get as ready as I can so when I’m able to get back out there, I’m 110% and I can perform to the best of my abilities for my team.”

The 24-year-old is saying all the right things, and it’s obviously encouraging that he’s focused on his comeback vs. his next contract. However, there’s no denying that the financials aren’t at least being considered in Barkley’s camp. The running back has already dealt with his fair share of injures; a high ankle sprain forced him to miss three games in 2019, and a torn ACL limited him to only a pair of contests in 2020. Another injury would surely hurt Barkley’s earnings potential, so it makes sense to grab the money when he can.

Further, Barkley is underpaid at his position, especially for a player of his caliber. The running back has a base salary of only $850K in 2021, with the total-cash earnings (including signing bonus) valued at around $4.8MM. The Giants predictably picked up his fifth-year option, guaranteeing him $7.2MM in 2022, but even that chunk of cash would rank him ninth at his position (in average annual salary).

Barkley could easily make an argument for being paid like one of the top backs in the NFL. Following a dynamic rookie campaign that saw him finish with 2,028 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns, Barkley followed that up with a sophomore campaign where he had 1,441 yards and eight scores (albeit in three fewer games). The former Pro Bowler will be looking to return to his previous form next year, and we recently heard he was rehabbing (but not participating) at OTAs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jim Fassel Dies At 71

Jim Fassel has died of a heart attack at the age of 71 (via the Los Angeles Times). Fassel coached in the NFL from 1991 through 2006 and is known best for his time with the Giants.

Fassel broke into the pro ranks with the Giants and became one of three head coaches in franchise history to lead the team to a Super Bowl. In 1997, his first year as the Giants’ head coach, Fassel was named the NFL’s Coach of the Year. From 97 through ’03, Fassel guided the Giants to three playoff appearances. All in all, Fassel went 58-53-1 as the Giants’ HC.

After his first Giants stint, Fassel served as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator (1993-1994), Raiders’ quarterbacks coach (1995) and Cardinals’ OC (1996). Then, after his six-year run as the Giants’ head coach, he spent three years with the Ravens, including two as their OC. Fassel’s last coaching position was with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League. The UFL ceased in 2012, but Fassel continued to live in Vegas throughout his golden years.

Although Fassel fell short of a ring during his six-year tenure as head coach, he’ll be fondly remembered for igniting the 2000 Giants in the face of critics.

This is a poker game, and I’m shoving my chips to the middle of the table,” Fassel told reporters in November of that year. “I’m raising the ante, and anybody who wants in, get in. Anybody who wants out can get out.”

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.

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This Date In Transactions History: Rams Release Kurt Warner

One of the best rags-to-riches tales in NFL history (temporarily) came to an end on this date 17 years ago. While no one knew it at the time, the story still had years to go before its conclusion. On June 1, 2004, the Rams released veteran quarterback Kurt Warner.

Warner, of course, went from an undrafted free agent and Arena Football League standout to NFL MVP. By the end of the 2003 campaign, Warner had easily cemented himself as one of the top athletes in St. Louis history. After getting thrust into the Rams starting lineup in 1999, the QB would go on to win a pair of MVPs, twice lead the NFL in touchdowns, and win a Super Bowl (along with a Super Bowl MVP). However, the wheels started to come off a bit during the 2002 season. Warner was limited to only six starts that season, with the Rams going 0-6 in those contests.

Warner was the starter to begin the 2003 campaign, but it somehow got worse. During his lone start, he had six fumbles, leading to his official benching. Meanwhile, fill-in Marc Bulger guided the Rams to a 12-3 record as a starter, cementing his spot as the Rams’ QB of the future. As a result, Warner found himself on the outs in St. Louis.

The writing was on the wall during the 2004 offseason. The Rams organization continued to work on a long-term pact with Bulger, and they also signed Chris Chandler to serve as the backup play-caller. So, with the June 1 deadline officially passing, the Rams decided to move on from Warner on this date in 2004. The move saved the Rams about $4.8MM in cap room while costing them about the same amount in dead cap, and they had to eat another $6MM-plus in 2005.

While Warner was reportedly seeking a starting gig following his release, he ultimately settled into a backup role as Eli Manning‘s mentor with the Giants. Warner actually had a chance to start at the beginning of the year, and he showed some improvement from his dreadful 2002 and 2003 campaigns. Still, he only finished with six touchdowns in nine starts, and the Giants voided the second-year of the QB’s contract at the conclusion of the season.

Warner added another chapter to his story in 2005. The veteran joined the Cardinals, and while he’d eventually earn a place in Arizona lore, it took a while for him to fully secure the starting gig. Thanks in part to injuries and the team’s desire to play top draft picks (including Matt Leinart), Warner only saw time in 16 games through his first two seasons with the organization, collecting a 3-12 record.

However, Warner experienced a career turnaround in 2007; his 27 touchdowns were his highest total since 2001. Then, Warner truly put himself back on the NFL map in 2008, earning a Pro Bowl nod after completing 67.1-percent of his passes for 4,583 yards and 30 touchdowns. More importantly, he guided his team to the Super Bowl, where he eventually lost to the Steelers. 2009 was another standout season for Warner, as he tossed 26 touchdowns while leading the Cardinals to a 10-5 record. However, that iteration of the Cardinals got blown out in the Divisional Round, and Warner announced his retirement soon after the season.

While no one thought Warner’s career was finished when he was released by the Rams on this date in 2004, few pundits probably envisioned him returning to the Pro Bowl, much less the Super Bowl. Just like Warner did during the early parts of his career, the QB managed to persevere and surprise during the second-half of his storied career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Giants’ Saquon Barkley Plans

Saquon Barkley‘s ACL tear occurred Sept. 20, 2020, but the Pro Bowl running back did not undergo surgery until late October. The Giants believe Barkley is progressing on schedule, but it will still be a bit before he returns to full work.

Barkley, who also suffered MCL and meniscus damage on that play in Chicago, is not expected to participate fully in Giants practices at the start of training camp, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com notes. The Giants have been busy stocking their backfield this offseason, adding a host of Barkley backups through various acquisition varieties. That Devontae Booker-led contingent should be called on often come camp.

Despite Barkley having resumed sprinting and jumping, his team will play it safe. He may be given the green light for regular work near the end of camp, but Raanan adds the Giants plan to hold Barkley back a bit — usage-wise — to start the season. The Giants playing the long game with their dynamic back makes sense, with the 24-year-old talent also having suffered a notable injury — a high ankle sprain — in 2019 and with the first 17-game season approaching.

The Giants picked up Barkley’s fifth-year option and are eyeing a long-term future with the former No. 2 overall pick. That may mean Booker and whoever else makes the team behind Barkley seeing more time early this season. New York gave Booker a two-year, $6MM deal and then added Corey Clement in free agency and claimed Ryquell Armstead off waivers from the Jaguars. The Giants also drafted Gary Brightwell in the sixth round. This will be a new crew of Barkley backups, and they may be busier than expected in September.

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Former Giants RB Brandon Jacobs Eyeing Comeback As DE

Tim Tebow has inspired another former player to attempt a comeback at a new position. Former NFL running back Brandon Jacobs announced on Twitter that he’s “serious” about returning to the league as a defensive end.

[RELATED: Jaguars Sign Tim Tebow]

“I can still run, I am strong and there’s no way Tim Tebow is a better athlete than I am,” the 2005 fourth-rounder tweeted. “I just need a shot that’s it!! If I can’t cut it I’ll take it like a man. Just give me one chance that’s all!!”

The soon-to-be 39-year-old hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2013, but Jacobs claims that he’s currently in as good of shape as he was during his playing career.

“Body feels great, even at 38,” Jacobs told Josina Anderson (Twitter link). “Right now I‘m at about 260lbs—same weight I played as a RB. I’m switching positions now because it’s something I should’ve done before, and honestly a position I can play….People always said I was a running back in a D-lineman’s body. It doesn’t cost anything to bring me into training camp. It doesn’t hurt to look.”

It’s hard to envision too many teams being interested in a former running back who’s trying to transition to defensive line, especially one who’d be one of the oldest players in the league. Maybe the Giants could give him a chance; Jacobs won a pair of Super Bowls and set the franchise record for rushing touchdowns during his eight years with the organization (two stints). Jacobs was known for his ability to shake defenders and break tackles, and he’d be looking to use that unique perspective if he ends up getting a shot from a team.

Cowboys Hire Ben McAdoo

The Cowboys have hired former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo as a consultant (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo). Now, McAdoo is set to face his former squad twice in 2021. He’ll also get to reunite with head coach Mike McCarthy — the two last worked together in Green Bay with McAdoo serving as the quarterbacks coach. 

McAdoo climbed up the NFL coaching ranks during his stints with the Saints, 49ers, and Packers. He caught on with the Giants in 2014 as their offensive coordinator, improving the squad from the 28th-highest-scoring offense to the sixth-highest-scoring offense. Ownership and the front office turned to their OC after Tom Coughlin stepped down, making McAdoo their 17th head coach in franchise history.

The Giants went 11-5 during McAdoo’s first season as the helm, although the team lost to the Packers in that year’s Wild Card Game. New York stumbled to a 2-10 record to start the 2017 campaign, and the organization ended up firing both their head coach and general manager Jerry Reese before the end of the year.

Since that time, McAdoo has seemingly been out of football altogether. The coach has worked with the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning throughout his career. Now, he’ll be asked to strategize around Dak Prescott.

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