The biggest storyline of the day for the Giants was the injury to Johnson, but they have been busy at other positions as well. Hand was a fifth-round pick of the Vikings in 2020, making 23 appearances during his time there. He primarily played on special teams, but registered an interception and three pass breakups as a rookie. Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News tweets that Minnesota was interested in re-signing him had he cleared waivers.
The release of Akins is somewhat surprising, given the Giants’ question marks at the tight end position. The former Texans third-rounder signed just before the draft, where New York added Daniel Bellingerin the fourth round. The latter had a brief stint on the PUP list at the start of training camp, but, if healthy, could be the favorite to take on Evan Engram‘s vacated starting spot.
A 2020 fifth-round pick out of Texas, Johnson put up relatively modest numbers in college (with the exception of his junior season). Still, he carried significant intrigue due to his size; at six-foot-six and more than 220 pounds, he had the potential to operate as at least a contested-catch specialist in the NFL.
As a rookie with the Jaguars, Johnson made 18 catches for 272 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He finished the year on IR, however, and found himself on waivers the following September. With the Giants last season, he made just 11 scoreless catches in 12 games. Nevertheless, his performances in training camp and the preseason had him on track to retain a roster spot behind the likes of Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Sterling Shepardand rookie Wan’Dale Robinson.
Johnson will become the sixth Giant to land on IR already, but the team has quickly taken steps to replace him. New York is claiming wideouts Bailey Gaitherand Jaylon Moore off waivers from the Ravens, per ESPN’s Field Yates (Twitter link). The pair have combined to make just seven regular season appearances, but could latch onto the end of the roster with Johnson’s injury.
Per Yates, the Giants also placed receiver Marcus Kempon IR. The 27-year-old has made all but one of his regular season appearances with the Chiefs to date, playing almost exclusively on special teams. The Giants will head towards final roster cuts looking to avoid any further lengthy absences, while trying to fill out the backend of their WR depth chart.
Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs and Raiders moves will be noted below.
Here are Wednesday’s AFC West transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.