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Curtis Samuel a free-agent fit for Giants?

Giants need more play makers, and Samuel is one

Detroit Lions v Carolina Panthers
Curtis Samuel celebrates a touchdown reception
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

We have acknowledged over and over this offseason that the New York Giants need to add playmakers on offense. Curtis Samuel fits that description, and the 24-year-old is headed to free agency this offseason after four seasons with the Carolina Panthers.

Let’s take a closer look at whether or not Samuel might be a fit for the Giants.

The basics

Age: 25 in 2021 season
Height: 5-foot-11 | Weight: 195
Position: Wide receiver
Experience: 4 seasons
2020 stats: 15 games | Receptions: (77 catches, 851 yards, 3 TDs) | Yards per catch: (11.3) | Catch percentage: (79.4) | Passer rating when targeted: (109.4) | Rushing: (41 carries, 200 yards, 4.9 yards per attempt) | Total yards from scrimmage: (1,051)

The skinny

Free agents to be Allen Robinson (Chicago Bears) and Kenny Golladay (Detroit Lions) might be closer to true No. 1 wide receivers than Samuel. There are others who might be better pure wide receivers. Samuel, though, is a multi-faceted offensive weapon and as a former Dave Gettleman draft pick in Carolina (Round 2, 2017) might be more likely than some of the others to actually wind up with the Giants.

Bradley Smith of SB Nation’s Cat Scratch Reader, which covers the Panthers, thinks it is “highly likely” Samuel leaves Carolina.

“He’s coming off a 1,000-yard season (851 receiving, 200 rushing) and someone will want to pay a premium for that,” Smith said. “The Panthers only have around $17 million in cap space for 2021 and have other pressing needs (like retaining OT Taylor Moton), so I don’t think they’ll be able to afford him unless he’s willing to take a huge discount (which he shouldn’t be).”

As a receiver, Samuel has improved every season.

  • 2017 — 15 receptions, 115 yards
  • 2018 — 39 receptions, 494 yards
  • 2019 — 54 receptions, 627 yards
  • 2020 — 77 receptions, 851 yards

Pro Football Focus said that Samuel had the highest catch rate in 2020 of any receivers with 70+ targets.

Samuel was third on the Panthers in receiving yards, but his 41 rushes for 200 yards made him a different kind of player. He’s more than a wide receiver, he’s a versatile weapon who can be used and aligned in a number of ways.

PFF data shows Samuel aligned at running back 70 times in 2020, in the slot 399 times and out wide 177 times. If you think he is just a slot receiver, the 2019 data begs to differ. That season, he lined up wide 640 times and in the slot 303 times.

Again per PFF, Samuel’s 330 rushing yards the past two seasons leads all wide receivers.

Carolina Panthers v Green Bay Packers Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

If I’m the Giants, I’m not looking at Samuel as a No. 1 wide receiver, or even the “X” receiver who could really complement Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton. I would look at him as a younger, more versatile upgrade from Golden Tate, a player I am pretty certain the Giants will move on from this offseason.

Another thing to consider is that if they sign him, Samuel would be 25 next season and the Giants should be getting his prime NFL seasons. As a point of reference, Spotrac’s Market Value Tool estimates that Samuel could garner a four-year, $49.9 million deal on the open market, nearly $12.5 million annually.

Would you pay that for roughly 1,000 yards of production annually the next couple of years?