Giants without two key offensive playmakers at the start of OTAs

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Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are missing a couple of key offensive playmakers at OTAs this week. Wide receiver Darius Slayton is absent as he holds out for a new contract and tight end Darren Waller continues to take his time away from the team, mulling a potential retirement.

The Giants could be without Darren Waller for the 2024 season

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Aug 18, 2023; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; The Carolina Panthers vs. the New York Giants in an NFL preseason game at MetLife Stadium. New York Giants Darren Waller before the start of the game. Mandatory Credit: Michael Karas-The Record

Waller has been contemplating retirement all offseason. No official update has been given, but considering he has been absent from every training activity and workout this offseason, it does not seem all too likely that Waller will be returning to the team for the 2024 season.

The Giants traded for Waller last offseason in what seemed to be a blockbuster deal at the time. But in 2023, he played in just 12 games as injuries nagged at him all season. Waller totaled 52 receptions for 552 yards and just one touchdown.

Big Blue has begun preparing for life after Waller. They selected tight end Theo Johnson in the fourth round of this year’s draft, and he could wind up playing a substantial role as a rookie. While Waller’s retirement is not official yet — and the team would surely love to have him back for the upcoming season — the Giants are smart to prepare for his extended absence and develop their tight end talents.

Darius Slayton is still holding out for a new contract

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New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll, right, greets wide receiver Darius Slayton (86) on the first day of mandatory minicamp at the Giants training center in East Rutherford on Tuesday, June 13, 2023. Danielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

While Waller mulls retirement, Slayton is absent from the team due to a contractual dispute. Slayton began his holdout at the beginning of this offseason, playing his leverage card by skipping voluntary workouts in hopes of receiving an extension. He has extended his absence into OTAs as the contract has yet to be resolved.

Waller was the team’s second-leading receiver last offseason, so his absence will be felt. But Slayton was the team’s leading receiver, so not having him on the practice field will certainly be a hurdle to jump. Slayton totaled 50 receptions for a career-high 770 yards and added four touchdowns in 2023. He was the Giants’ leading receiver for the fourth time in the last five seasons.

Although Slayton will no longer be the team’s primary receiving threat with Malik Nabers now in town, he will still play an important role as the No. 2 option this season. But, since his contract dispute has still not been resolved, there is a chance that the Giants decide to move on from Slayton via trade, rather than extend him.

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