Now that the college all-star week is over, the NFL offseason official transitions over into free agency watch. We’ll take you through all the New York Giants’ positions of need and look at potential targets for fans to keep an eye on in free agency.
We’ll start with the position people have been clamoring for the most: wide receiver.
While this free agent wide receiver class lacks a true top-end talent, there are a number of solid pass-catchers who could be added to the receiving room. The Giants could also be looking to bring back two of their own players in Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard, along with potentially spending a draft pick or two, to give the Giants a more complete unit. Let’s discuss seven of our favorite options at wide receiver.
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Potential Giants Wide Receiver Targets
If Richie James were to leave in free agency, then the Giants would find themselves in a position to look long and hard at slot receivers this offseason. There are few better than Meyers, which Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen know first-hand from their time in Buffalo.
Meyers returned to New England in 2022 on a restricted free-agent tender and it would follow that the Patriots would try to bring him back yet again. Meyers’ lack of long speed and his 4.63-second 40-yard dash at the combine led him to go undrafted, but he has produced consistently at the NFL level.
Over the past three seasons, he has just a 3.1% drop rate, which is 9th-best among qualifying wide receivers, and his 63.2% contested catch rate is a top-five mark among all wide receivers over the same span. At 6’2″ and 200 pounds, Meyers has also shown that he can line up out wide, playing a third of his snaps there, and that versatility is something Daboll will really know how to make the most out of.
It’s easy to discredit Smith-Schuster because of his TikTok dances and the way he seemed to lose support in Pittsburgh. However, he signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs this year and quietly delivered, recording 78 receptions for 933 receiving yards and playing more than 65% of offensive snaps for the AFC champions.
Despite entering his seventh NFL season, Smith-Schuster will be just 26 years old next season, and it’s easy to forget just how good he was in prior years. He’s a strong receiver over the middle of the field and makes tons of contested catches, which will earn him the respect of his quarterbacks.
He doesn’t have the ceiling we maybe thought he did three years ago, but that also means he won’t command the salary or the long-term deal of a potential WR1. Yet, he can be a solid complementary receiver who can line up in the slot or out wide and be a valuable red-zone target for the Giants along with Isaiah Hodgins.
D.J. Chark is one of the sneakier options in this year’s free-agent class. At just 26 years old, Chark still offers a ton of upside and has yet to really hit his peak due to injuries that have continued to plague his career. The LSU product has a lengthy NFL injury history but has been able to play through many until the last two seasons, where he has played just 15 combined games.
However, it’s hard to discredit the flashes of the brilliance he showed in Jacksonville when he was healthy, making the Pro Bowl in 2018 before being dragged down by Urban Meyer in 2019 and getting hurt in 2020. He was solid for Detroit this past season but also battled injuries and a receiving corps that featured Amon-Ra St. Brown and T.J. Hockenson soaking up targets for much of the year.
Chark has the deep speed to complement Hodgins and, at 6’4″ 200 pounds has the size to be a true go-to receiver. Perhaps the Giants can sign him to a one-year incentive-laden contract or a short multi-year deal with early opt-outs in case the injury bug bites him again. If healthy, Chark may be the best free-agent receiver in 2023.
Hardman is another potential slot receiver the Giants could look to sign on an affordable deal given his inability to really make good on his promise so far in his career. Despite dealing with injuries in 2022 that limited him to only eight games, he has been durable in his career in Kansas City, so injuries shouldn’t be a long-term concern.
Neither should his ability to be a solid safety valve since he caught over 70% of his passes for the second straight season. However, he has always played third or fourth fiddle in Kansas City behind Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Smith-Schuster, and more. Even so, Hardman has proven that he can be dangerous with the ball in his hands and has game-breaking speed in the open field.
His skill set in a Brian Daboll offense without having to fight with guys like Hill and Kelce for targets could be exciting for Giants fans.
You’re starting to see a trend here as Parris Campbell is yet another talented but injury-plagued receiver who could be signed on a reasonable contract due to his risk factors.
The 26-year-old had a breakout season in Indianapolis, which is saying something considering he was catching passes from Matt Ryan and Sam Ehlinger. But the Ohio State product has always had gobs of potential with speed to burn, running a 4.31 40-yard dash at the 2019 Combine, which ranked in the 99th percentile of receivers that year, and then, even after the injuries, leading all ball carriers in speed during this season at 22.11 mph on a 26-yard run.
After playing in just 15 games over his first three seasons with the team, Campbell suited up for every game, so there figure to be quite a few teams looking to take a gamble on his speed in the hopes that he can remain healthy going forward. He could be a perfect low-risk, high-reward gamble for the Giants.
We’ll give you a bonus wide receiver with a player who is not yet a free agent but is rumored to be a popular cut candidate. Chargers beat writer Daniel Popper broke down that the team can save $14.8 million in cap space by releasing Allen, who he thinks is one of the “most likely” cuts for the team in the offseason.
Allen’s fit on the Giants would be clear given his consistent ability to help move the chains. The 30-year-old had gone over 1,000 yards in four of the last five years heading into this season and registered at least 97 catches in each season. His career 8.0 yards per target demonstrate the area that he thrives in the best, moving the chains and getting open over the middle of the field.
The Giants would need to add a speed element, like bringing back Slayton, if they were going to play Allen with Hodgins, and this would be a bit of a win-now move for the team, but the Giants did make the playoffs this year, and the addition of Allen to an offense that features Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley could make New York a factor in the NFC East.
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