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Is It Time for Giants to Get Darius Slayton More Involved in the Offense?

Let's take a deeper dive into the numbers to weigh the pros and cons.

The New York Giants, who lost receiver Sterling Shepard and continue bringing Wan’Dale Robinson (knee) and Kadarius Toney (hamstring) back from their respective injuries, are unlikely to have another top receiver come riding in on a white steed to save the day.

Then again, they might not need to because the answer could already be on the roster. Darius Slayton, the fourth-year receiver whom the Giants decided to keep after failing to get a suitable trade offer at the end of training camp, has played 18 snaps on offense this year and has yet to be targeted in the passing game.

Slayton, who agreed to a pay reduction to stay on the team, hasn’t come close to lighting up the stat sheet the way he did as a rookie when he recorded a team-leading eight touchdown catches on 48 receptions for 740 yards.

One might argue that a reason why he's been passed over in the offense is due to his declining reception percentage (57.1 percent as a rookie, 52 percent in 2020, and 44.8 percent last year) and touchdowns scored. Basing any decision on those numbers might be a tad shortsighted given the overall struggles of the offense in 2020 and 2021, combined with some injuries Slayton tried to fight through.

Another negative in Slayon's game has been dropped passes. After recording only three drops as a rookie, he's had six in each of the last two seasons, a career 10.8 percent drop rate (229 pass targets).

A closer look at his performance shows Slayton might not be such a bad option. According to NextGen Stats, his average separation against a covering defender has increased in each of the last three years, from 2.2 yards as a rookie to 2.3 yards in 2020 to 3.0 yards last year.

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(For comparison purposes, Slayton’s average separation yards from last year is more than the 2.7 average yards logged by Shepard and Richie James so far this season.)

Slayton was also a receiver with whom quarterback Daniel Jones built up some chemistry dating back to when they reported to Giants rookie minicamp together in 2019.

“Darius is a guy I have a lot of trust in, a lot of faith in, and I know he’s working hard,” Jones said. “As far as the game plan going forward, we’ll see how it works out, but I have a lot of faith and confidence in him.”

“Slay’s been a pro,” added head coach Brian Daboll. “All those (receivers) will be out there working this week, and we’ll try to put them in the best positions we can. But he’s been a pro, and he’ll be ready to go.”

Daboll acknowledged that general manager Joe Schoen is always on the watch to add talent to the roster. Still, with limited salary cap space—the Giants have just $5,325,027 of space per the NFLPA public cap report, any thought of bringing in a top-flight receiver, if one is even there on the market, is a dream.

“We have those guys right now who we have. And we’re going to expect them to come out here, keep improving, work hard,” Daboll said. “We have a couple of guys on our practice squad right now that maybe they come into play; they’ve been picking up our stuff. So, we’ll see as we go.”


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