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NFL free agency: Is WR Corey Davis a logical target for the Giants?

Davis would give the Giants size, play-making ability, and still may have some upside

AFC Championship - Tennessee Titans v Kansas City Chiefs
Corey Davis
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

It is incumbent upon the New York Giants to upgrade the offensive talent around third-year quarterback Daniel Jones for the 2021 season. An offense that finishes 31st in the league again will likely get offensive coordinator Jason Garrett fired, maybe GM Dave Gettleman, too, and would likely have the Giants looking for a new quarterback.

One way to do that might be to add a big-bodied wide receiver who could fill the “X” receiver role, or give Jones something similar to what Hakeem Nicks gave Eli Manning and the Giants several years back.

A potential free agent who might be able to fill that role is Corey Davis of the Tennessee Titans. Let’s take a closer look.

The basics

Age: 26
Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 209
Position: Wide receiver
Experience: 4 seasons
2020 stats: 14 games | 65 receptions | 984 yards | 15.1 yards per catch | 5 touchdowns | 70.7 percent catch rate | 10.7 yards per target | 3.3 percent drop rate | 123.6 passer rating when targeted

The skinny

Davis was selected No. 5 overall by the Titans in 2017. He’s been productive, but not No. 5 pick in the draft productive. In 2020 he matched his career best with 65 catches and all of the ancillary numbers shown above were the best of his career. Still, those are good but not great. They aren’t No. 1 wide receiver numbers.

The Giants certainly wouldn’t turn away that kind of production. Is there more, though? Could the 26-year-old be an 80, 90, 100-catch guy? A No. 1 receiver?

I turned to Jimmy Morris of SB Nation’s Titans blog, Music City Miracles, for the 411 on Davis. Here are three quick questions about this potential Giants free agent target.

Ed: What is the likelihood at this point that Davis hits the free agent market and leaves the Titans?

Jimmy: I think the chances he hits the market are pretty good. The Titans aren’t going to tag him, and it just feels like one of those situations where another team is going to value him more than the Titans do. I don’t think there is necessarily any bad blood between Davis and the team, but he is probably looking for a fresh start in a place where he doesn’t have to live up to being the 5th overall pick - as you mention below.

Ed: Davis has two 65-catch seasons, but he hasn’t necessarily lived up to being the No. 5 overall pick. Why? Is there still a higher ceiling, or is what we’ve seen likely to be what we get from Davis?

Jimmy: There are a lot of layers to the why. Part of the reason is that he doesn’t have the raw talent of a guy that you would expect to be the #5 pick. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good player, but he was never going to be Julio Jones. If you go back to that draft, there were three receivers widely regarded as first-round picks - Davis, John Ross, and Mike Williams. The Titans desperately needed a wide receiver. They had two first-round picks, #5 and #18. Jon Robinson, the Titans GM, knew that all three of those guys would be gone by 18, so if he wanted a receiver he had to take one at 5. So you could argue that Davis was a reach on draft day, but that’s a different conversation.

Another reason that he hasn’t put up the numbers you might expect here is just the offense he was playing in. Marcus Mariota suffered a broken leg at the end of the 2016 season and was never the same guy after that. Davis was a rookie in 2017. The offense sputtered quite a bit his first couple of years. The offense took off in 2019 when Ryan Tannehill took over, but Davis was playing through a turf toe injury that was really reported at the time but was apparently pretty nasty. There’s also the fact that Derrick Henry has gotten 681 carries in the last two regular seasons. That makes fewer catches to go around.

Ed: If the Giants sign him they will ... regret they spent the money or be glad they did?

Jimmy: Whatever team signs Davis needs to have good pieces around him. I don’t think he is going to thrive as the number one option in an offense. He had his best year in 2020 with A.J. Brown on the other side firmly entrenched as the No. 1 wide receiver. Davis was a really, really good second option. You obviously know more about the Giants’ offense than I do, but as a piece added to the weapons the Giants currently have, I think he could put up some really solid numbers. I think he would be a good value at something similar to what NY recently did with Sterling Shepard.

Despite Morris’ belief that the chances of Davis hitting the market are “pretty good,” ESPN Titans reporter Turron Davenport apparently believes Tennessee “will be able to figure out a number that works for all parties and bring him back.”

So, we will have to see if the Giants even get a chance to woo Davis — should they want to.

Davis seems to make sense. He would give the Giants a different type of receiver than Darius Slayton or Sterling Shepard. Jason Garrett’s offenses in Dallas always had a big receiver on the outside, first Terrell Owens and then Dez Bryant. The Giants also need more verticality in their passing attack, and Davis averaged 15.1 yards per catch and 10.7 yards per target a year ago.

CBS sports cap analyst Joel Corry, a former player agent, believes Davis could command $10-12 million annually on the market. Spotrac’s Market Value Tool puts his value at $9.8 million annually, estimating a four-year, $39.4 million deal for Davis.

So, two questions. Is he a player you would like to see become a Giant? More importantly, would you pay $10 million or more annually in a year with a reduced cap to make that happen?