Publicly, Giants general manager Joe Schoen has downplayed the team’s obvious need for a wide receiver at all times.
“I know people want to talk a lot about offense and receivers, but we’re still building a team in all three phases — we’ll look to improve offensively, defensively and our special teams unit,” Schoen said Wednesday.
And he’s telling the truth: The Giants don’t have a one-way mind.
Sources say the team is in the market for inside linebackers, defensive linemen, cornerbacks and inside offensive linemen heading into the start of free agency next week and the April NFL Draft.
There’s even optimism, according to sources, that the Giants will be able to re-sign safety and captain Julian Love. They’ve already started talking to defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence’s representatives about an extension as well.
But don’t be fooled: Especially after paying Daniel Jones $82 million over the next two seasons, improving the wide receiver position is a top priority.
( Daniel Jones’ new Giants contract is ‘team-friendly’ in structure )
Sources say the Giants have delved into the veteran wide receiver trade market. The first place to look is always at the familiar.
In free agency, it looks like the Giants might have their eyes on slots catcher Cole Beasley. They nearly reunited Beasley and his former Bills offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll, last season to resume their productive partnership.
Meanwhile, Bills wide receiver Gabe Davis could be a potential trade target if Buffalo can’t reach an extension with their No. 2 receiver who has displayed No. 1 skill.
Davis, a former fourth-round pick, is due to earn $2.9 million in the final year of his rookie contract. And the Bills are already paying big money to Stefon Diggs.
It’s no secret that Schoen and Daboll have a strong affinity for Davis. Daboll authored the play for Davis’ explosion in the AFC divisional playoffs with eight catches, 201 yards and four touchdowns in January 2022.
It makes sense to look at trade possibilities at receiver, given this year’s disappointing free-agent wide receiver class and a draft crop, which Schoen is also looking closely at, with no obvious stars.
The LA Rams have given Allen Robinson permission to seek a trade, according to NFL Network. He has two years left on his contract, and the Rams are willing to pay part of his $15.25 million salary in 2023 to close a deal. Robinson also has ties to the East Coast.
The Arizona Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins, 30, is the biggest, most intriguing name available, but there’s been no buzz about the Giants there yet, and his age, injury history, and high cost (trade plus salary) wouldn’t match up. those of Schoen. typical mode of operation.
Unfortunately, the Cincinnati Bengals’ Tee Higgins is unavailable, as director of player personnel Duke Tobin made clear at the NFL Combine.
Some league sources in Indianapolis thought the Bengals’ Tyler Boyd could be an intriguing trade target, with just one more year at $10.3 million remaining on his contract. But it seems that Cincy has no desire to split the current top three.
Schoen, of course, was aggressive at the trade deadline last fall in the search for Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. So it’s worth remembering. Like Davis, Jeudy is still young, with proven production and room to grow.
However, Denver finally made it clear last fall that he was unavailable. And the Broncos could go with Jeudy’s affordable fifth-year option for 2024 on top of this year’s $4.8 million salary. So something would have to change under new coach Sean Payton for a trade to happen.
The Giants’ door is not believed to be closed on free agent Odell Beckham Jr., whom they spent a lot of time recruiting this winter. He will reportedly hold a workout in Arizona on Friday for those interested. Still, that would have to be a low-risk deal for the team.
The goal of pursuing OBJ in December was the opportunity to bring him back into the building at minimal cost, with the bonus of rehabbing him in New Jersey for a chance at a productive 2023. So, it remains to be seen how that evolves.
Internally, here’s some encouraging news: A source said the career Giant Sterling Shepard plans to play again in 2023, which would be his eighth NFL season.
Shepard is rehabbing from a torn ACL in Week 3 against the Dallas Cowboys last season, but he’s part of the heart of the team.
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Assuming the Giants see value in a low-cost deal again, he would provide the team with a chance whenever it comes back, and perhaps his presence and that of Saquon Barkley would keep the hope of OBJ’s reunion alive.
Meanwhile, the Giants are said to expect Darius Slayton’s free agent price to be high, and it’s likely he’ll sign elsewhere. The Giants have already re-signed Isaiah Hodgins.
And the Richie James situation looks like it could go either way. He had a solid 2022 season, which makes him attractive to both the Giants and the rest of the league.
Wan’Dale Robinson is also rehabbing from a torn ACL in November, so even if the Giants were to sign Beasley, they’d need reliability and slot depth.
Schoen is also likely to look at the wide receiver and tight end positions in the April draft. That could mean in the first round. Maybe not.
Regardless, the Giants know they need to add more weapons to maximize Jones’ next two seasons under this new contract. And they are working to make that happen.
The Giants received two 2023 compensatory draft picks: the 38th pick of the fifth round (172 overall) and the 37th pick of the seventh round (254 overall). The formula granted them those picks by losing qualifying free agents Lorenzo Carter, CB Keion Crossen, TE Evan Engram and DL Austin Johnson in 2022 while signing G Mark Glowinski and QB Tyrod Taylor. The Giants now have 11 picks in the April draft. That includes Kansas City’s third-round pick courtesy (37th round, 100th overall) from the Kadarius Toney trade.