When the NFL offseason began, fans and analysts around the league linked the New York Giants to every available star wide receiver.
After Darius Slayton led the team in 2022 with just 724 yards receiving, it seemed like a given that the Giants would try to secure themselves an elite target out wide for newly re-signed quarterback Daniel Jones. Instead, the Giants traded for tight end Darren Warren and then brought in a few high-upside wide receivers on low-risk, short-term deals.
The most intriguing of the bunch might be 25-year-old Parris Campbell
The former Ohio State Buckeye was a tantalizing weapon when he was drafted by the Colts in the second round of the 2019 draft, but injuries derailed the first three seasons of his career, playing just 15 combined games. Even after a healthy 2022 season, the receiver found his free agent market colder than he would have liked.
“Free agency was a little funny, was a little weird,” he said at Giants’ minicamp last week. “As you guys know, the receiver market was kind of slow the first couple days.”
Campbell’s checkered injury history was another reason why he knows his market was not heating up the way that he wanted it to.
“Looking at my past, having dealt with all those injuries, it’s tough for a team to invest long-term off of one year,” he acknowleged. “The human nature of it, I thought that it would be different. When I really looked at reality, if I’m a team, I can’t invest in a guy long-term because I’ve only done it for one year.”
That meant that, if he wanted to find a place to call home, he was likely going to have to bet on himself on a short-term deal. In the end, that was a one-year $4.7 million deal with the Giants.
“Deep down in my heart, it was kind of scary, having been in Indy for four years. It was scary, the thought of having to go somewhere new, move my family, all that stuff. When I really thought about it, it was a new opportunity.”
An opportunity that he has been truly thankful for so far in the offseason.
“Shoot, since day one, it’s been nothing but good so far,” he said, smiling. “I’ve been enjoying myself. I’ve been having fun out there on the football field with the guys, getting to know these guys. It’s a blessing.”
Part of that enjoyment comes from the family culture that the Giants have been building under general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll.
“The culture was the first thing that stood out to me,” Campbell admitted. “It’s really a family atmosphere. From the guys in the locker room to the coaching staff to the front office, just everyone, you can kind of feel that family nature.”
In addition to soaking in the family-based culture of the Giants organization, Campbell has also taken inspiration from his new quarterback.
“He’s a hard worker,” Campbell said of Daniel Jones. “I don’t think, from the outside looking in, he gets a lot of credit for that. Like from day one, he puts so much time and effort into his craft… He takes it to a whole other level…It gets you up, makes you want to play for a guy like that when you see him put in all that time and that work.”
Another motivating factor for Campbell has been the dynamic receiving corps that he has the potential to be a part of in New York.
“This is definitely the fastest total complete group that I’ve played with in my career,” he said. “We’ve got speed all across the board. It’s speed that can do a lot of different things. It’s not just guys running in a straight line fast; it’s ball in the hands fast. In their routes fast. We complement each other.”
Along with that speed comes the creativity of Daboll to use it in a number of different ways. For Campbell, that has also meant running jet sweeps and even lining up in the backfield for some drills.
“It’s not new to me,” he admitted. “It’s something that I’ve done playing football before. But it’s also fun for me. It’s something that I like to do because they’re using me in different ways. I feel like that’s something that I’m good at too… Getting some reps [in the backfield] is good.”
Finding himself in a new environment, with a hard-working quarterback, an athletic receiving corps, and a creative head coach, Campbell is hoping that he’s put himself in the best position possible to prove to teams across the league that he’s not the injury-prone player that he’s been made out to be.
“I feel like when you really look at the injuries I was dealing with, they were kind of fluke things,” he explained. “It’s once in a blue moon that something like that happens on the football field. I could understand if I’m pulling hamstrings, pulling quad muscles, things like that. Serious season-ending injuries, breaking bones, I think it’s fluke at the end of the day. Now I got a chance to prove that I could stay healthy last year.”
It’s a chance that he’s been making the best of so far, and if Campbell can live up to the promise he showed coming out of college, 2023 could be a great year for both him and the Giants.
“I’m excited for what’s to come.”
Perhaps so should Giants fans.