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Reaction: Processing the Kadarius Toney trade

What to make of the Giants’ stunning trade?

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Syndication: The Record Danielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants delivered some surprising news on Thursday with the trade of Kadarius Toney to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Giants fans had sky-high hopes for Toney under Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka, but things never got off the ground. And fans are understandably surprised and disappointed in the development.

It’s downright strange for a team to trade a first-round pick in his sophomore year, but then, nothing about Toney’s tenure with the Giants was normal. There’s quite a bit to sort through with this trade, from the decision to move on from Toney, to the compensation, to what it means about the pick to begin with.

The trade

The Giants traded Toney to the Chiefs for the Chiefs’ compensatory third-round pick and a sixth round pick. We don’t yet know where the third round pick will land (and won’t until the NFL hands out all of their compensatory picks), but it will likely be somewhere around 100th overall.

On the face of it, that would seem like a steal for the Chiefs. After all, Toney was drafted 20th overall less than two years ago. However, the circumstances surrounding the trade swing the value in favor of Joe Schoen and the Giants.

Toney has played just 12 of 24 possible games since the start of his rookie year, and that doesn’t count the considerable time he spent injured in the off-season. And even in the games he has played, he hasn’t produced much. While Toney’s six-catch, 78-yard game against the New Orleans Saints and 10-catch, 189-yard game against the Dallas Cowboys are often cited, the other 10 games he’s played have been far less productive.

In Toney’s other 10 games as a Giant, he managed just for 25 catches for 153 yards or 2.5 catches for 15.3 yards per game. Between his injuries and persistent lack of production, those games against New Orleans and Dallas look more like outliers.

Getting a third-round pick for a player who has either been injured or averaged less than three catches for 20 yards in 22 of 24 career games — with fewer touchdown receptions than your left tackle — looks a lot like a masterstroke by the Giants’ GM.

Of course, Toney’s career could turn around and he could become the player we all hoped he might be after the Dallas game. Andy Reid certainly knows how to use players with Toney’s movement skills, and he’ll be catching passes from Patrick Mahomes.

But even so, this was a good trade for the Giants.

A (very) late third-round pick is still a valuable commodity in the NFL draft. Cor’Dale Flott was selected 81st overall. Daniel Bellinger was selected 112th overall, and Dane Belton was picked 114th overall. Those are all good players who have played big roles for the Giants and look to be important players going forward.

With the 20th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the New York Giants select...

So what does the trade mean about the selection of Toney itself?

Well, multiple things can be true at the same time. The Giants decision to move on from Toney (and the compensation they got for him) was good. The process by which the Giants were in position to draft Toney was solid as well. Trading down is almost always the correct move.

The opportunity cost of the trade down is tricky, considering both Micah Parsons and Rashawn Slater have been among the best in the NFL at their positions since entering the NFL. Complicated further by the fact that while the Giants wouldn’t have been able to draft both Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal in 2022 without the trade, they could have had Parsons and Neal or Thibodeaux and Slater.

However, the logic of securing more picks is solid.

That said, the evaluation and decision to draft Toney in particular was obviously flawed. It ignored his long-standing health issues as well as his inexperience at wide receiver.

Missing on first-round picks are brutal for a team, and missing on the Toney pick has hurt this Giants team. Teams need their first rounders to be productive early in their careers and form the foundation of their team. Toney spending half of his time with the Giants on the trainer’s table and rarely producing on the field not only didn’t help the Giants, he took the place of a player who could actually help the team.

It’s possible that he could go on to be a Pro Bowl or All-Pro player, but the decision to trade Toney has salvaged as much value from the pick as possible.

Looking down the road, this makes the Giants’ needs at wide receiver even more glaring. With Toney gone, Sterling Shepard once again on the comeback trail, and Kenny Golladay just trying to get on the field, the Giants remain bereft at receiver.

Fortunately, they’ve been able to win in spite of their lack of their deficiencies. They might decide that they haven’t needed receivers to get where they are and can keep going with what they have.

Sitting here, I have no clue what Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll’s long-term vision for the team is. I don’t know who (outside of the 2022 draft class and a few others) is in the picture and who isn’t. This regime has stressed trusting the process throughout 2022, and despite their 6-1 start to the year, I’m not sure I see them changing course and spending draft capital to acquire a receiver during the season.

Or they could turn around and flip that third-round pick for some receiving help now. It wouldn’t be stunning, however given the Giants’ own cap constraints and how highly Schoen values draft picks, they might not trade for a “big name” player.

We’ll just have to see how it all plays out going forward.

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