The New York Giants entered the 2021 off-season with two primary objectives.
The first was to re-sign defensive lineman Leonard Williams as soon as possible to a long-term deal so that the $19.35 million franchise tag wouldn't choke their cap.
That was a no-brainer, and in getting that deal done, the Giants, who were able to get the best out of Williams by deploying him more to his strengths, now have themselves an anchor on a defensive line unit that otherwise has seen players come and go.
The second and perhaps more important objective was to upgrade the talent on the league's 31st ranked overall offense and scoring offense ahead of a very critical third season for quarterback Daniel Jones.
In checking off both those boxes, the Giants are now a much better team than the one they put on the field last year, at least on paper. And while grades are subjective, Pro Football Focus, who graded the Giants free-agency haul as "Above Average," likes what the Giants did, particularly the Golladay signing.
After a slow start to free agency at wide receiver that saw some players settle for one-year fliers (Will Fuller to the Dolphins for $10 million, JuJu Smith-Schuster back to Pittsburgh for $8 million), Golladay was still able to command a monster four-year, $72 million contract with $40 million in total guarantees.
Even at that price tag, Golladay is a huge addition to a wide receiver room that doesn’t have much size to speak of, having posted the highest grade on contested catches since 2019 (95.4). Jones had the highest rate of accurate throws among starting quarterbacks on passes 20-plus yards downfield in 2020 at 51.3%. This combination is just what the doctor ordered in New York.
While some may argue the Giants overpaid for Golladay and should have instead focused on finding a true X-receiver in the draft (loaded in receiving talent), the Giants don't have the luxury of time.
Jones is entering the third year of his rookie contract. He has already received endorsements from those whose opinions are the only ones that matter (team COO John Mara, general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge).
While Jones showed improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 in terms of the intangibles, at the end of the day, the statistical production wasn't there, which is at the source of the questions still surrounding Jones's suitability to carry this team for the next decade.
That's why the addition of Golladay was a "must" for the Giants. They have now removed all excuses for Jones to fall back on should he not take that next step.
And if Jones, despite all the improvement to his supporting cast, doesn't take that next step, the Giants figure to be right back drafting in the top half of the league again in 2022 where at that point they may have to rethink their plans at quarterback.