The last time the Giants entered an offseason determined to add a top receiver, that feeling of urgency blew up in their face.
General manager Joe Schoen operated his first year under the weight of the previous regime’s mistakes of signing Kenny Golladay and drafting Kadarius Toney in 2021, so excuse him for not jumping at the prospect of going all-in for another No. 1 receiver.
“A number-one wide receiver can be important, but there are some number-one wide receivers that are home right now,” Schoen said. “A number-one receiver doesn’t guarantee you anything.”
Of the 14 wide receivers who had more than 1,100 yards this season, five were on teams that did not reach the playoffs. Seven of the nine playoff-participant receivers are on teams already eliminated. Only the Eagles’ duo of A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith remain alive, though the 49ers’ Deebo Samuel and Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase are both bona fide No. 1s who missed time with injuries this season.
“There are multiple positions we want to upgrade throughout the offseason,” Schoen said. “I’d love to have a number-one wide receiver, but we have to place value on everything we do. And if it makes sense, that’s something we’ll look to do.”
An underwhelming free-agent market is led by Nelson Agholor, D.J. Chark, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jakobi Meyers. The variable is former Giants draft pick Odell Beckham Jr., who met with Schoen at the Giants facility in December but misled multiple teams into thinking he was further ahead in his rehab from his second torn ACL in as many years than was true. He is available to sign at any time, before other free agents in March.
“Dinner was good,” Schoen said of meeting with Beckham. “We’re going to consider … every position, who’s available, who are the players we can potentially sign, and we’ll devise the plan from there.”
With Toney traded to the Chiefs and the soon-to-be-released Golladay ($6.7 million salary cap savings, $14.7 million dead cap) glued to the bench other than a handful of snaps per game, the Giants finished the season with a top three of Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins and Richie James. But Slayton and James are unrestricted free agents, and Hodgins — who scored five touchdowns in the final seven games — is an exclusive-rights free agent who can be re-signed to a one-year minimum deal without negotiating with other teams.
Two receivers who finished the season with torn ACLs also could be in the plans. Sterling Shepard, who has missed 34 games due to injury in the past four years, is a free agent who took a pay cut coming off a torn Achilles last season. When his season ended in Week 3, he remained around the team as a hype man.
“I love Shep. Juice guy all the time. One of my favorites here,” Schoen said. “We’ll continue to monitor his rehab. He’s been a tremendous resource around here for us. We’ll continue to communicate with the training staff on where he is in his [rehab] and when he’ll be healthy enough to play. That’s something we may or may not entertain.”
Rookie Wan’Dale Robinson, who said the goal told to him is to be ready for Week 1 of the 2023 season, underwent his ACL repair last month and it included some meniscus “cleaning up,” he said.
“Wan’Dale was really coming along,” Schoen said. “He would have been a big-time contributor, especially down the stretch, if he had stayed healthy.”