In an era when big ticket NFL free agents often find new teams in the blink of an eye, many times in the brief “negotiating window” before teams are allowed to sign such players, the New York Giants and wide receiver Kenny Golladay went through a long, arduous three-day process before deciding to team up.
That began Thursday with dinner and ended Saturday afternoon with Golladay’s signature on a reported four-year, $72 million deal with $40 million guaranteed and a maximum value of $76 million.
The roughly 48-hour dance was part “make sure we’re right for each other because this is a massive commitment” and part “let’s make a deal.”
Dave Gettleman, Joe Judge, ownership and the Giants’ medical staff obviously all liked what they heard and saw from Golladay. The wide receiver also obviously like East Rutherford was the right place for him.
“I liked the vision that coach Joe Judge had and [offensive coordinator] Jason Garrett, as far as the offense, and I was all the way in,” Golladay said during a Saturday evening videoconference with Giants media. “Just hearing the vision that coach Joe Judge had and coach Jason Garrett had as far as the offense. That had me right there. And just walking around the building, everybody greeting me and with them pretty much telling me that they wanted me here and I’m expressing the same thing. It was kind of like a no-brainer and I’m glad it worked out.”
Golladay actually ended up seeing the benefit the old-fashioned meet-and-greet before you make up your mind process.
“Well first off, I think it’s really just they just wanted to lay eyes on me, taking a different approach about this whole process,” he said. “It kind of worked out for both sides –– I was able to come in and see what they’re all about, I was able to see how the facility was, they had a chance to pick my brain and I think it worked out pretty smooth.”
We will find out the actual structure of the contract soon enough, as well as the other salary cap gymnastics assistant general manager Kevin Abrams and the front office had to perform to fit Golladay’s into an extremely tight cap window.
All of that, though, is done. It had to be a bit of a high-wire act, and it certainly wasn’t easy.
Yet, the truly hard — and important — part is still to come. Now, the New York Football Giants have to win football games.
A four-, five-, or six-win 2021 season is simply not acceptable. A 31st-ranked offense is not acceptable. Generating only 12 touchdown passes over a 16-game season is not acceptable.
Only real playoff contention is acceptable. Not a chance to win the division with six wins in Week 17 because the rest of your division stinks kind of contention. We’re talking about nine- or 10-win kind of contention that you earn because you field a good football team.
Comparisons have been made between this regime’s signing of Golladay to help a young quarterback and the Giants’ 2005 signing of Plaxico Burress to help a second-year quarterback named Eli Manning.
Those Giants did not win a Super Bowl right away. They did improve from 6-10 in 2004 to an 11-5 team that earned a wild-card playoff berth in 2005. They did improve from 22nd in the league in points in 2004 to third in the league in points in 2005.
The other, more recent, comparison is the 2020 Buffalo Bills. They added star wide receiver Stefon Diggs via trade before last season, helping quarterback Josh Allen take a massive Year 3 leap in productivity. The Bills went from 23rd in points scored at 10-6 in 2019 to third in points scored and AFC East champs with a 13-3 record in 2020.
Expecting the Giants to go 13-3 is a bit much. Expecting them to be a good football team that compiles a winning record should not be too much to ask.
The Giants have had a really good week, accomplishing many of their free agency objectives.
- They got Leonard Williams signed to a long-term deal, both keeping a core player they want to build around for the next few seasons and opening up some 2021 salary cap space.
- They chipped away at adding roster depth by signing several low-cost players who should provide help at positions of need.
- They filled their biggest need, a play-making wide receiver, by being bold and reeling in the best receiver on the 2020 free agent market.
There is still work to be done.
The Giants could still use an upgrade at outside cornerback opposite James Bradberry. Former first-round draft pick Adoree’ Jackson begins a free agent visit Sunday night and if the Giants can keep Jackson from making a subsequent visit he has scheduled with the Philadelphia Eagles that will be another offseason win.
An impact linebacker, either on the edge or inside next to Blake Martinez, would be a nice addition.
There is a young and talented but largely unproven offensive line to mold, and perhaps still add to. The Giants have a new offensive line coach in Rob Sale, as well as veteran coaches Freddie Kitchens and Pat Flaherty dedicated to trying to make that happen. It has to.
Mostly, though, the Giants need everything they have done — and will likely continue to do in the draft — to bolster their offense to help make them right about Daniel Jones.
After two years with flashes of brilliance but overall too many turnovers and too little passing production, we still don’t know with any certainty if Jones is a quarterback the Giants can win with long-term. We don’t know yet whether Gettleman’s decision to take him at No. 6 in the 2019 NFL Draft will pay real dividends. We don’t know if the constant faith Judge has expressed in the young quarterback will be rewarded.
Jones will be able to hand the ball to Saquon Barkley in 2021. He will have Golladay, Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard at wide receiver — with John Ross, Dante Pettis and perhaps a draft pick also available. Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph and Kaden Smith are available at tight end. The offensive line should improve with experience.
Jones, showing the intelligence of a young man who attended Duke, helped in recruiting Golladay.
“He reached out. He just said how good of a player that he thought I was and I pretty much said the same thing about him. He also just said, you know, ‘We’re trying to do something great here,’ and that’s what I’m all about,” Golladay said. “Well first off, he’s still kind of fresh in the league a little bit and I kind of want to grow with him. I’m still growing as a player and I feel like me and him can do some good things. We haven’t gotten on the practice field yet, but me and him both are very excited.”
Jones said this about the addition of Golladay:
“I’m very excited to have Kenny. He’s been a big time playmaker in this league. When we spoke, he was interested in the culture we have in the building and the mindset of the team. I think he had heard it from coaches but wanted to hear how we saw it as players and how much we believed in it. I think finding the right fit in that sense was important to him. I can’t wait to get out on the field and get to work with him.”
The Giants and their fans are excited, too. You don’t, though, get rewards for winning the offseason.
Now, the Giants have to win some games.