Darius Slayton

NFC East Notes: Giants, Mills, Eagles

The Giants continue to entertain the prospect of Brian Daboll not calling plays when the season opens. Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka will hold that responsibility in the team’s preseason opener Thursday, via the New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy. Working behind Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy as Chiefs quarterbacks coach, Kafka was not in a play-calling position in Kansas City. The former NFL backup QB also was not expected to be a play-calling OC, with Daboll being at the controls for Josh Allen‘s star turn. Daboll has not ruled out calling plays himself, but this matter being uncertain entering the preseason is an interesting development for the team.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Just before their preseason slate, the Commanders are making a staff change. Ron Rivera announced the firing of defensive line coach Sam Mills III. Assistant D-line coach Jeff Zgonina will move up, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post (on Twitter), with assistant DBs coach Brent Vielselmeyer set to help out. Mills, 44, has been with Rivera throughout his coaching career, beginning with the Panthers — the team with which his late father, the recently inducted Hall of Fame linebacker, retired — in 2005 and staying on for Rivera’s nine-season tenure (2011-19). Rivera brought Mills with him from Carolina in 2020, and the latter headed up a defensive line that did plenty to spark the team’s surprise playoff run that year. Rivera (via Jhabvala, on Twitter) described the separation as having to do with this offseason and training camp, rather than previous years’ performance.
  • Darius Slayton has gone from the Giants‘ 2019 and ’20 receiving leader to a trade candidate to a player in danger of being waived. While it should not be ruled out another team trades for the contract-year wide receiver, Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes it would be a surprise if Slayton was on the team’s 53-man roster (subscription required). Slayton was not receiving many first-team reps during the offseason, when much of Big Blue’s receiving corps was battling injuries, showed where this could be headed. He has continued to be a second- or third-teamer at camp. If cut, the former fifth-round pick will surely generate waiver-wire interest.
  • Darnay Holmes appears to have seized command of the Giants’ slot cornerback competition. Competing with third-round rookie Cor’Dale Flott, Holmes has taken every first-team rep at the position during camp, Duggan adds. Their configuration could change during the preseason, but the Giants look set to go with Holmes, Adoree’ Jackson and 2021 third-rounder Aaron Robinson at corner.
  • Jeremiah Washburn has been working as an Eagles coach and executive for a bit now, and this rare combination has since come with a promotion. Washburn is now in charge of Philadelphia’s edge defenders, being named the team’s defensive ends and outside linebackers coach. He was previously a senior defensive assistant. Washburn remains the team’s player personnel director. Alex Tanney is also rising up the Eagles’ staff, moving from the quality control level to the team’s assistant quarterbacks coach.
  • Cowboys national scout Drew Fabianich left for a job at Auburn recently, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. He will become the SEC program’s general manager and director of football scouting and development. Fabianich was with Dallas for nearly 20 years.

Giants Rookie Wan’Dale Robinson In Line To Start?

The Giants have a number of options to choose from at receiver, each of whom is more experienced than Wan’Dale Robinson. The second-round rookie is currently making a case for a starting role right away, however. 

As noted by The Athletic’s Dan Duggan (subscription required), Robinson is currently occupying a first-team role in training camp practices. The other two spots, not surprisingly, have been taken up by Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney. That setup leaves a notable name in Darius Slayton relegated to backup work.

The veteran found himself in trade talks once again this offseason, one marked by the plethora of cost-cutting moves new general manager Joe Schoen was forced to make given the team’s salary cap situation. Slated to carry a charge of nearly $2.6MM this season, he could find himself amongst the team’s roster cuts if a trade partner can’t be found.

That leaves Robinson a path to significant reps early on his career, especially considering the disappointing first seasons in the Big Apple displayed by Golladay and Toney. Veteran Sterling Shepard will return for a seventh campaign after taking a pay cut this offseason, but his latest injury concern clouds his future beyond 2022. Robinson therefore faces little competition in terms of known commodities at a position of great importance to the Giants’ desired offensive turnaround.

After posting 1,445 scrimmage yards last season, the Kentucky product demonstrated his ability to produce significant numbers. The five-foot-11 slot man presents plenty of long-term potential for New York, but his inclusion with the starters ahead of Slayton in particular points to a heavier workload to begin his career than some would have expected.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Eagles, Clark

Participation among key Giants receivers was light during this year’s offseason. Sterling Shepard continues to close out his Achilles rehab, while Kadarius Toney missed time because of a new injury. Kenny Golladay was also limited during the team’s spring workouts. This could point to Darius Slayton being retained as an insurance policy of sorts, but the fourth-year wideout does not seem to be a favorite of the new regime, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com offers. Slayton buzz this offseason continues to point to a departure, and Raanan does not have the former fifth-rounder making the team. The Giants shopped the two-time 700-yard receiver ahead of the draft and took Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson in Round 2, further crowding their receiving corps. Due to a proven performance escalator, Slayton’s rookie contract finishes up with a $2.5MM 2022 salary.

Here is the NFC East’s latest:

  • Haason Reddick‘s potential role as an outside linebacker who moves to defensive end on passing downs in a 4-3 scheme reminded of Von Miller‘s in his initial Broncos seasons. But the Eagles may no longer be keen on keeping their highly paid edge rusher in the garage. They are leaning toward more 3-4 sets this season, Tim McManus of ESPN.com notes. This would allow Reddick, who turned his career around after the Cardinals gave him a chance as a pure edge player in 2020, the opportunity to rush on most plays. The former first-round pick has accumulated 23.5 sacks over the past two seasons.
  • The Eagles have a formidable-looking defensive tackle crew, having drafted Jordan Davis to pair with Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. Despite Davis’ massive frame, McManus adds the Eagles believe he can be a three-down player. Nose tackles often come off the field on passing downs, making the use of a top-15 pick on one questionable. While Davis might not be ticketed for an immediate three-down role, given the veterans that headline his Philly position group, the Georgia-developed size-speed freak will have that chance as a pro.
  • Cowboys rookie linebacker Damone Clark is not expected to suit up anytime soon. The fifth-round pick underwent spinal fusion surgery in March, per The Athletic’s Jon Machota, and may miss the season. Even if Clarke suits up, Machota adds the Cowboys are not expecting that to happen until late in the season (subscription required). Clark recorded 135 tackles and 5.5 sacks during his final LSU season and will rejoin ex-Tigers teammate Jabril Cox as part of Dallas’ linebacking corps.
  • Although Travon Walker and Aidan Hutchinson went first and second overall, Giants DC Don Martindale and outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins viewed Kayvon Thibodeaux as this draft’s best edge prospect, Raanan notes. Lofty draft-board proclamations often emerge after teams make their picks, but the Giants did select a player who exited 2021 atop many mock drafts. The team plans on using Thibodeaux as an inside pass rusher as well, Raanan adds. Big Blue has enjoyed success with edge rushers moving inside, but it has been a while since Justin Tuck and Co. thrived in the Big Apple.

NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Commanders, Staff, Toney, Giants, Eagles

The Cowboys and Commanders each ran afoul of NFL offseason rules during their OTA workouts this year. As a result, each team will lose 2023 practice time and each squad’s head coach received a six-figure fine. Both Mike McCarthy and Ron Rivera received $100K fines for workouts deemed over the line, the Dallas Morning News’ Calvin Watkins and ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano note (Twitter link). Washington will be short two OTA days in 2023 due to excessive contact. This marks the second consecutive year McCarthy received a fine for offseason overwork. He received a $50K fine last year, with the Cowboys being docked $100K and a 2022 OTA for 2021 violations. The Cowboys will be docked one OTA day in 2023. OTAs do not hold the role they once did, and teams have begun to limit offseason activities on their own. The Eagles will go into training camp after not holding a mandatory minicamp. But Dallas and Washington will need to make minor adjustments to their 2023 offseason schedules.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Injuries wrecked the Giants‘ offense last season, sidelining starters at just about every position. Some new issues cropped up this offseason. Neither Kenny Golladay nor Kadarius Toney participated fully at any point during Big Blue’s offseason program, per NJ.com’s Zack Rosenblatt, who adds Toney is dealing with a new knee injury (Golladay’s issue is unknown). Toney injuries have become a recurring problem for the Giants. Ankle, oblique and quadriceps issues limited Toney to 10 games last season, one that began after he missed most of training camp due to a hamstring problem. This year’s camp becomes more important for the 2021 first-rounder as a result of last year’s run of setbacks.
  • Toney still projects as part of Brian Daboll‘s first 53-man roster; Darius Slayton might not. The Dave Gettleman-era investment has been mentioned in trade rumors, and The Athletic’s Dan Duggan views the former fifth-round pick as unlikely to be part of this year’s Giants edition (subscription required). The Giants are likely to continue shopping Slayton up until cut day, Duggan adds, as he would be their No. 5 receiver if everyone is healthy. Almost no one in the team’s top four (Golladay, Toney, Sterling Shepard, Wan’Dale Robinson) being healthy could point to Slayton staying. Shepard is still recovering from the Achilles tear he suffered last season. A two-time 700-yard receiver, Slayton is due a $2.54MM salary in 2022.
  • Both Shane Lemieux and Nick Gates were lost for the season early in the Giants’ miserable 2021 slate. While Lemieux is favored to start at left guard this season, Rosenblatt notes Gates might not return to action at all this season. This is not an out-of-the-blue development. Then-HC Joe Judge said Gates’ leg fracture sustained in Week 2 of last season could be career-threatening. That said, a report earlier this year gave Gates better odds at returning. The Giants gave Gates — a 16-game center starter in 2020 — a two-year, $6.82MM extension two years ago. But offseason addition Jon Feliciano is ticketed to take over at center.
  • The Eagles lost nearly all of their high-ranking front office staffers this offseason, seeing four of them leave for assistant GM gigs elsewhere. One of those, Andy Weidl, is now Omar Khan‘s right-hand man in Pittsburgh. Weidl worked with the Eagles for more than six years, and although he took over the team’s VP of player personnel post after Joe Douglas became the Jets’ GM in 2019, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes Howie Roseman did not give Weidl as much input as Douglas had. This became an understandable source of friction for Weidl. The Eagles went in a different direction with their new Roseman right-hand men, promoting staffers without traditional scouting backgrounds (Jon Ferrari and Alec Hallaby) to assistant GM posts.

Giants Shopping Darius Slayton

Kadarius Toney has garnered most of the headlines for the Giants recently, but he’s not the only wideout who could soon be on his way out of New York. According to Dan Duggan of the Athletic, Darius Slayton is being shopped around by the team (subscription required). 

[RELATED: Giants Willing To Trade Toney]

Slayton, 25, has been involved in trade discussions before. In the run-up to last season’s trade deadline, the Giants began receiving calls on his availability. They didn’t end up dealing him, but New Orleans was named as a team which attempted to strike a deal. In a disappointing 2021 season, Slayton totalled 26 catches for 339 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

In his two other seasons in the NFL, however, the Auburn product put up encouraging numbers. His receptions (48 and 50) and yardage (740 and 751) totals were almost identical between 2019 and 2020, though he found the endzone much more frequently in his rookie campaign. That made him part of the cause for optimism surrounding the Giants’ passing game this past season, but the team ranked 31st in the league through the air.

As Duggan notes, Slayton’s usage earned him the proven performance escalator, which has direct financial consequences for the coming season. After three years of six-figure cap hits, that number will increase to just under $2.6MM in 2022. That makes him much less affordable for New York – which, after a slew of cost-cutting measures, still faces a tight cap situation – and less attractive to any potential trade partner. Duggan writes that it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see Slayton cut from the roster if a trade doesn’t materialize.

The Giants are well-positioned if they wish to re-shape their WR room this week via the draft. Especially if they add significantly to the position, Slayton could soon find himself in a new NFL home.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/4/22-1/5/22

Here are Tuesday and Wednesday’s activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: TE Jared Cook, LB Damon Lloyd (remains on IR)

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Giants Place T Matt Peart On IR

The Giants will not have one of their tackles available for a while. While they placed Matt Peart on IR on Thursday, the second-year blocker will be shut down well into the offseason.

Peart suffered a torn ACL during the Giants’ Week 16 game against the Eagles. The 2020 third-round pick was starting in place of Nate Solder, who was out after a positive COVID-19 test.

This could impact the Giants’ plans at right tackle. Solder is due to be a free agent in March, thanks to a reworked contract. His 2020 opt-out changed the Giants’ offensive line approach, sliding Andrew Thomas to left tackle. Peart played 22% of the Giants’ offensive snaps last season and upped that to 43% this year. Peart made five starts this season.

While Peart probably factors into the Giants’ post-2021 plans, his stock will take a hit because of this injury and the franchise being set to move on from GM Dave Gettleman. The Giants have dealt with considerable issues up front this season, having played without interior-line starters Shane Lemieux and Nick Gates. Both starters suffered severe injuries, with Gates’ September setback a possible career-ender. Beyond Thomas, not much is certain about the Giants’ offensive front beyond this season.

The Giants also activated Solder from the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday but moved tackle Korey Cunningham and wide receiver Darius Slayton to the virus list. Cunningham had replaced Peart at right tackle in Philadelphia. The Giants also placed running back Gary Brightwell on IR.

Saints Tried To Acquire Giants WR Darius Slayton

Odell Beckham Jr. wasn’t the only wideout who the Saints considered trading for. According to Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football, New Orleans tried to pull off a trade for Giants receiver Darius Slayton. However, the two side were unable to agree to a deal before the deadline.

[RELATED: Saints, Browns Discussed Odell Beckham Jr. Trade]

The Saints quest to add a receiver made a lot more sense once we learned that Michael Thomas will end up sitting out the entire 2021 campaign. Of course, even if Thomas was in the lineup, the team still could have used some reinforcement at the position, especially with quarterback Jameis Winston now done for the season. The Saints leader in receptions this season is running back Alvin Kamara, and the team’s receivers depth chart is currently led by Marquez Callaway, Tre’Quan Smith, Kenny Stills, and Deonte Harris.

Slayton wouldn’t have necessarily been an upgrade, but he would have provided the Saints with another dependable target. The 24-year-old has struggled a bit in 2021, collecting only 190 receiving yards in five games. However, in both 2019 and 2020, Slayton exceeded 700 receiving yards.

We heard yesterday that Slayton was generating some interest ahead of the trade deadline. The wideout’s low-cost contract still has another full year to go, a factor that held appeal to potential suitors.

Giants’ Darius Slayton Drawing Trade Interest

The Giants have been receiving trade inquiries on Darius Slayton (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). With a record of 2-6, the Giants could be willing to move the young wide receiver. 

[RELATED: Teams Calling On Giants’ Engram]

Slayton, 24, was a solid fifth-round find in 2019. He nabbed 48 passes for 740 yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie, good for a 15.4 yards per catch average. His encore was similarly solid — 50 receptions for 751 yards and three scores. This year has been a different story — hamstring issues sidelined him for several games and he was targeted just twice against the Chiefs last night. Through five games this year, Slayton has 12 catches for 190 yards and one touchdown.

His low-cost contract still has another full year to go, which should hold appeal to rival clubs. Then again, that’d be another reason for the Giants to keep him. And, despite their iffy status, GM Dave Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge have insisted that they won’t hold a desperation fire sale to save their jobs.

Tight end Evan Engram is also said to be drawing trade interest, with multiple teams calling on the fifth-year pro.

Position Coaches: Gilbride, Flaherty, Lupoi, Tolbert

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule is beginning to fill out the position coaching spots in Carolina. Kevin M. Gilbride will be in charge of the team’s tight ends and Pat Flaherty is expected to be named the team’s offensive line coach, per Alex Marvez of Fox Sports. Gilbride has extensive experience as a tight ends coach, serving in the position with the Giants from 2014-17 and with the Bears from 2018 until he was fired last month.

The Panthers will be the fifth NFL organization to hire Flaherty as an offensive line coach. Flaherty worked as the offensive line coach from 2004-2015 with the Giants followed by a one-year stint with the 49ers, a two-year stint with the Jaguars, and a a short period with the Dolphins in 2019. While Flaherty brings a long line of experience, he was fired in Miami prior to the end of training camp after struggling to implement the team’s scheme.

  • The Falcons have named Browns defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi as the team’s defensive line coach and run game coordinator, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Lupoi was a collegiate defensive lineman at Cal, where he began his coaching career in 2008. After a stint with the University of Washington as the defensive line coach, he joined the staff at Alabama, eventually becoming the team’s defensive coordinator in 2018. Lupoi moved to the professional coaching ranks for the first time when he joined Freddie Kitchens‘ staff prior to this season.
  • Giants new head coach Joe Judge will not be making changes to the entire coaching staff. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, reports that Judge is expected to retain wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert. While New York struggled in many areas this season, the receiving corp showed impressive depth. Tolbert was credited with helping late-round pick, Darius Slayton, become a legitimate receiving option.