Wide receiver Jeff Smith will be staying in New York. He won’t be re-signing with the Jets in order to do so, though. The former Jet will be swapping Big Apple franchises and signing a new contract with the Giants, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
Smith originally signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He was cut during final roster cuts before the regular season and signed to the team’s practice squad. Smith was promoted to the active roster for one game and recorded a catch for 12 yards as a rookie before being placed on injured reserve five days later. He would start 2020 on IR, as well, but would still play 12 games that season. He’s missed games here and there with injury, but for the most part, he’s remained on the active roster since being activated as a rookie.
Smith’s sophomore season was probably his strongest in terms of playing time and production. He received the fourth-highest offensive snap count in the wide receivers room behind Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder, and Denzel Mims. In the following years, Smith received the eighth- and sixth-highest snap counts in 2021 and 2022, respectively. 2020 was his strongest season statistically, too, as it saw him record career-highs in targets (37), receptions (17), and yards (167). He has yet to record an NFL touchdown. Smith signed an exclusive-rights free agent tender to remain with the Jets in 2022.
He leaves one New York team for the other as the Jets continue to target assets in an effort to satisfy Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who intends to play for the Jets once trade compensation is worked out. He makes his way to the Giants, where Kenny Golladay, Richie James, Marcus Johnson, and Darius Slayton have all found their way to free agency.
Slayton and James were the team’s top two receivers in terms of playing time and statistics last year. The Giants return a group of receivers that collectively missed a large portion of games in 2022. Smith will be competing with Isaiah Hodgins, Sterling Shepard, and Wan’Dale Robinson for the bulk of the team’s playing time. The three combined to miss 31 games last season. Should they struggle to stay on the field again, Smith will be competing with David Sills, Collin Johnson, and others for playing time behind them.
The Giants added a huge safety blanket for newly extended quarterback Daniel Jones, acquiring tight end Darren Waller from Las Vegas in a trade this week. They’ll need to add more than just Waller, though, if they expect to have a potent passing attack to supplement running back Saquon Barkley‘s ground game. Smith is a minor step towards that goal, but the team will likely need to do much more to be competitive.