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NFL free agency: Medium-priced WR targets for the Giants

Could the Giants find the playmaker they need without breaking the bank?

Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

It’s no secret that the New York Giants are looking to add skilled position players on offense. Another lackluster offensive year would be a ruinous development for Daniel Jones’ career. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Giants could sign a free agent, retain key contract year player(s), and invest a Day 1 or Day 2 selection into an offensive weapon.

Having a healthy Saquon Barkley should improve all facets of the offense, especially the ability to generate explosive plays on the ground, but it was still evident that Darius Slayton may not be the desired number one outside receiver in this offense. Evan Engram is set to become a free agent at the end of 2021. Sterling Shepard is signed through the 2023 season (becomes a free agent in 2024). Slayton is already halfway through his contract and Golden Tate will more than likely be a cap casualty this offseason.

New York could look to sign an Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay, or Chris Godwin as we wrote about earlier this week, but another option is to go with a slightly cheaper option; a player who won’t command top dollar, but will still be looking for some security. Let’s see who fits the description.

Corey Davis, Titans

Davis is interesting because he could easily be a high-priced free agent. He has the pedigree - fifth overall selection in the 2017 draft, has the size - 6-foot-3, 209 pounds, and he just turned 26 years old. Davis should garner some interest on the open market, but there are some drawbacks.

Firstly, if Golladay, Robinson, Godwin, and JuJu Smith-Schuster aren’t retained or franchise tagged, then that’s a lot of good receivers who will be in the market. Secondly, that market could have significantly less money in it than last season. Thirdly, Davis has never had more than 1,000 yards receiving, never had more than 65 catches in a given season, and never had more than 5 touchdowns in a year.

That analysis is true, but there are obvious caveats. For starters, he played in a run-dominated offense that featured Derrick Henry above anyone else. Another thing to consider is the 2019 second-round selection of A.J. Brown who quickly became the number one receiver in Tennessee. Davis was solid as the number two option, with huge 2020 games against Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and a solid outing versus Denver. However, he was left with a big old goose-egg (no catches) when he had to face Chicago (Kyle Fuller), Green Bay (Jaire Alexander), and the Baltimore trio of corners (Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith, and Marcus Peters) in the Wild Card round.

He’s also missed games due to hamstring and hip injuries throughout his career, but only missed two games in 2020. There’s certainly talent with Davis. One could argue that he wasn’t in the best system to showcase his talent. But there’s a reason his fifth-year option wasn’t picked up by Tennessee. At the right price, this signing could be what the Giants need. “Rolling the dice” a little bit on a player who didn’t live up to expectations but has quality traits isn’t the worst option.

Curtis Samuel, Panthers

Someone cue up Peaches & Herbs because GM Dave Gettleman would receive a familiar face if the Giants go in this direction. Samuel isn’t the prototypically big-bodied receiver, nor is he known for his blazing type of speed, although his 40 time would suggest otherwise (4.31 at the combine). What is encouraging, however, is his leap in play as a receiver in the last two seasons.

Samuel was arguably the third option on Carolina’s offense. He played behind former first-round pick D.J. Moore and former New York Jet Robby Anderson but was used as an offensive weapon. He had 77 catches for 851 yards and 3 receiving touchdowns while recording 41 carries for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. 143 of those 200 yards were after contact.

He had more touchdowns in both of the previous years, but he looked like a different player and was used much more downfield in 2020. Samuel would bring an explosive element to the Giants' offense while giving them versatility due to his varied skill set.

He seemed to develop nicely in his final two Carolina years and the arrow seems to be pointing upward. Adding a 24-year-old playmaker like Samuel to a somewhat modest deal, while drafting a bigger-bodied receiver (or tight end) could be a course of action to improve the offense around Daniel Jones. There’s familiarity/past interest (Gettleman drafted him in Carolina) and logical reason to add someone like Samuel, but there are several compelling cases that could be made for several different offensive playmakers in free agency and the draft.

Will Fuller, Texans

The former Golden Domer was having a career year in 2020 before he was busted for performance-enhancing drugs that led to a six-game suspension which carries through week one of the 2021 season. This, combined with Fuller’s questionable medical history, may lead to a slightly reduced price tag for a player with incredible explosive vertical ability.

The Texans are an embattled franchise who just released one of the most influential athletes in Houston history. They also may lose their star quarterback in DeShaun Watson who doesn’t seem too enthused to return. Due to the turmoil, Fuller may not have a desire to return to the franchise.

Fuller, much like Golladay, is a unique vertical threat, only Fuller wins more with speed than physicality and 50-50 catch-ability. Fuller ran a 4.32 at the combine and his speed is on display every Sunday. The last time we saw him on the football field was when he torched the Lions on Thanksgiving for six catches, 171 yards, and two touchdowns, which prompted the Lions to fire head coach Matt Patricia.

He ended his 11 games 2020 season with 53 catches for 879 yards and 8 touchdowns. Defenses have to respect his speed and they tend to roll coverage his way or play soft against him opening up underneath curls for quick short gains. Due to the injuries, and the suspension, his price tag is a bit of a mystery. If he could be signed, on a reduced price tag, then I feel he would be a quality addition that could fix the lack of explosive plays on this Giants’ offense.