The New York Giants have a slew of wide receivers set to become free agents this offseason. The wide receiver position is one of great need for Big Blue. Injuries decimated the Giants’ receiving corps during the 2022 season, propelling backup players into the starting lineup. The Giants will need to decide whether or not to extend three of their free-agent wide receivers this offseason as they bolster their offense for the 2023 season.
Three wide receivers the New York Giants have to decide on:
1.) Sterling Shepard
Despite playing in just three games this season, Sterling Shepard found a way to make an impact with the New York Giants. Unable to make an impact on the field, Shepard turned himself into the ultimate hype man for his teammates on the sidelines, leading his brothers to battle week-in-and-week-out.
“Love Shep. He’s awesome; juice guy all the time. He’s one of my favorites here,” general manager Joe Schoen said of Shepard via Giants.com. “He’s been a tremendous resource around here for us. He’s a guy that we’ll talk about as well at the end of the week and continue to communicate with the training staff, and those guys, on where he is from that standpoint, when he’ll be healthy enough to play. Again, that’s something we may or may not entertain.”
Sterling Shepard is loved by the players, coaches, and front office. On the field, Shep has been a reliable receiver for the Giants for several years, however, injuries have sidetracked his career. Shepard has not played a full season of football since 2018 and has played in only 10 of the Giants’ 34 regular season games over the past two years. Through the first three weeks of the 2022 season, Sterling was off to a hot start, recording 13 receptions for 154 yards and one touchdown. Unfortunately, Shepard suffered an ACL injury in Week 3 that ended his season prematurely.
Shepard is now set to become a free agent this offseason. At 30 years old with a long injury history plaguing his career, it’s hard to imagine many teams lining up to give Shepard a lucrative contract. However, considering the impact Sterling Shepard had on the Giants’ sidelines this season, New York should explore the possibility of extending the veteran slot receiver on an inexpensive contract.
2.) Richie James
Richie James is also set to become a free agent this offseason. James signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Giants last offseason. Originally expected to be a backup, injuries at the wide receiver position thrust Richie James into a starting role for Big Blue this season.
James played in all 17 games for the Giants in 2022. He hauled in 57 receptions for 569 yards and four touchdowns, lining up as the Giants’ primary slot receiver. Richie James posted an impressive catch rate, hauling in 81.4% of his targets this season. He did, however, drop three passes and fumble the ball three times this season.
Richie James was by no means a dominant force in the slot, but considering what the Giants paid to acquire his talents, James far exceeded all expectations. The Giants could likely extend Richie James on a contract similar to the one he signed last season. Something short-term and inexpensive would allow James to continue to contribute to Brian Daboll’s offense next season without preventing the Giants from adding more talent at the position.
3.) Darius Slayton
Darius Slayton has been a starter in the New York Giants offense since his rookie 2019 season. After a down year in 2021, Slayton opened the 2022 season as a fringe roster player for the Giants. However, injuries propelled Slayton back into the starting lineup, where he was able to lead the Giants with 724 receiving yards after hauling in 46 receptions and two touchdowns.
Like Richie James, Darius Slayton is a replacement-level wide receiver that could easily have his production replicated by someone else. However, Slayton has excellent chemistry with Daniel Jones and has been an impactful player for the Giants for the past four seasons.
Slayton has top-end speed to challenge defenses and open things up for other wide receivers underneath. The Giants could extend Darius Slayton on a short-term, inexpensive contract, providing Daniel Jones with a familiar and reliable receiving target next season.