The last big free agent domino has fallen with Kenny Golladay signing a reported four-year, $72 million deal with the Giants. Although the move fills a mammoth need for the G-Men, it’s an on-paper step back for Golladay, who will be going from one of the most effective down-field quarterbacks in Matthew Stafford to Daniel Jones, a third-year pro who attempted just 43 passes longer than 20 yards in 2020. That was as many as Gardner Minshew and fewer than Teddy Bridgewater.
You could argue the lack of deep shots was merely the result of the Giants’ personnel, though Darius Slayton is one of the league’s most explosive young field stretchers, while Evan Engram has always offered big-play potential down the seam. If there is a silver lining, it’s that Jones seemed to pick his spots well. Pro Football Focus graded him with its highest quarterback rating on 20-plus yard attempts. Perhaps there is room to grow here.
There is going to have to be, as down the field is where Golladay does his best work. For Golladay’s last full healthy season in 2019, Pro Football Focus evaluated him as the most effective deep receiver. This was as Next Gen Stats measured him generating the least cushion. Golladay is a wideout who makes contested catches in tight spaces down the field. That is where Jones has feared to tread, as Next Gen Stats revealed him to throw an average of 1.5 yards shy of the sticks. That was shorter than all but six full-time starters. Again, though, there is the possibility for more, as Next Gen also charted Jones as the league’s ninth most “aggressive” starter.
Golladay needs Jones to be a different player to unlock what “Babytron” does best. There are some underlying numbers that show it might be possible. Fantasy managers can only wait and see, regarding Golladay as a boom/bust WR2 after he had filed all the necessary WR1 paperwork in Detroit.
As for the rest of the Giants’ skill corps, WR3 relevance would now seem to be a stretch for Slayton, and Engram can no longer take six-plus weekly targets for granted. Engram’s 2020 streamer case was built solely on volume. Few tight ends were less efficient. Now he will have to do more with less — Sterling Shepard isn’t going anywhere, either — making Engram a low-ceiling TE2 until he proves he can feed off Golladay. Golladay’s alpha presence on the sideline will free up space over the middle of the field, but only if Jones begins to pull the trigger on a far greater number of aggressive, down-field passes.