New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton might be in trouble.
Though there’s a lot the Giants are in need of across their roster on both sides of the ball, one thing they do have is wide receiver depth. Returning veterans like Sterling Shepard and Kenny Golladay are back, as well as second-year pass-catcher Kadarius Toney and recent training camp standout Collin Johnson, who’s gotten some reps with the starters. If that didn’t make the receivers room crowded enough, New York’s new general manager, Joe Schoen, drafted another one: Wan’Dale Robinson.
There are others too—namely free agent signee Richie James and special teamer C.J. Board—and with that much receiver depth, not all receivers will get an equal amount of playing time (obviously), and it will be a challenge to even make the team in the first place. Of the guys currently fighting for spots at training camp, not all of them can consider their jobs safe.
Toney is definitely one of them after he flashed some elite elusiveness and speed in his rookie season, though his production was a bit of a letdown. Robinson seems to be another one as a third-round pick who has impressed in camp thus far. Golladay, too, is safe in his second year with the Giants if for no other reason than that he’s a sunk cost. After signing one of the most lucrative contracts among free agents last offseason, the former Lions receiver was a huge disappointment in his first season in New York. He put up just 521 yards—which (almost unbelievably) led the team in 2021—and zero touchdowns in 14 starts. Shepard is likely safe too, though he’s still recovering from an Achilles tear, clearing up another spot on the roster for a receiver.
That leaves James, Board, Johnson, and Slayton as the odd men out fighting for the last receiver spot on the roster. Of them, it’s Slayton that seems to be the most likely candidate for getting cut.
Johnson has been showing out in camp thus far, using his large, 6-foot-6 frame to secure some impressive catches. He’s looked right at home in head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka’s offense and has gotten those first-team reps as a result. Johnson flashed his skills in Thursday’s bout with the Patriots, finishing the night as the Giants’ leading receiver with 82 yards on seven catches. He’s also a guy that can be a contributor on special teams if called upon. To that end, Board has proven in years past how valuable he can be on special teams, even if it means fewer snaps on offense. James, too, has been impressive in camp, showing off his potential as a kick and punt returner. He finished Thursday night with 44 yards and a touchdown on three catches.
That leaves Slayton, a receiver who doesn’t contribute on special teams, has started to have some bad dropping issues, and a drastic drop in production. Perhaps worst of all for the fourth-year receiver, his contract is structured such that the Giants could save more than $2.5 million by cutting him.
As a receiver that can’t contribute on special teams, hasn’t played well in camp, and with a contract that would save the Giants good money if they cut him, the writing could be on the wall for Slayton. New York just has so much depth at the position that keeping all of their currently rostered receivers isn’t viable. There are younger answers (and bigger sunk costs) that seem to be more capable of being real contributors in 2022 and as such are practically guaranteed roster spots already. Slayton could end up with another team and contribute, especially if he gets over his dropping issue, but there doesn’t seem to be a route to him making the Giants’ roster this season.
Slayton still has the chance to save his job if he’s able to ball out in the preseason and prove that there’s still some chemistry between him and Jones after they shined together as rookies in 2019. It just seems unlikely that that could happen after what’s been a pretty poor showing at training camp so far, which included relegation to the third offense in the Giants’ Blue-White scrimmage. Even now, he’s listed on the second-team offense on New York’s unofficial depth chart.
The Giants have two more preseason games after Thursday’s opener, so Slayton has a bit more time to prove his worth. He didn’t get many snaps on Thursday to do so, and Jones only targeted him twice, though Slayton did have one catch for 17 yards and even a two-yard carry. If he doesn’t step up in a big way in what’s left of the preseason, he’ll more likely than not end up a cap casualty once the Giants have to cut down to their final 53-man roster.
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