First impressions shouldn’t have to be deceiving. Simply as typically, they are often revealing.
My first interplay with Darius Slayton was in the course of the spring of 2019, with the one actual insights confined to some private tidbits and his soccer resume:
From the Atlanta space.
Performed extensive receiver for 3 years at Auburn.
Chosen by the Giants within the fifth spherical of the NFL Draft.
A rookie reputed to be quick, arriving with out nice manufacturing from a school program that usually produced wideouts with out nice statistical achievements.
There was one thing about Slayton in that first assembly that resonated then and resonates now with Slayton having signed a two-year contract price $12 million to stick with the Giants.
As a rookie, he spoke clearly, concisely, in a made-for-radio voice that sounded assured and assured. It was unattainable to stroll away from the primary interplay and never be impressed together with his off-the-field demeanor and maturity. “Bought to keep watch over this man’’ was the takeaway.
As so typically occurs in life, Slayton’s first 4 years with the Giants got here and went, seemingly in a flash.
He often confirmed he might catch the deep ball and in addition drop the deep ball as he put up constant, unspectacular numbers for occasionally unhealthy offenses.
It regarded as if his run with the Giants was going to be achieved after three years, however he maintained — barely and never with out monetary loss — his place on the crew for the 2022 season.
It then regarded as if his run with the Giants was going to be achieved after 4 years, however he’ll return in 2023.
It’s an act of survival whose roots have been placed on show in that very first dialog with him.
Life within the NFL by no means appeared too huge for Slayton, not as a rookie and never when his existence with the Giants was teetering.
The primary spring and summer season Slayton spent beneath the brand new Joe Schoen-Brian Daboll regime didn’t bode effectively for a partnership lasting into the autumn and winter. The GM and head coach had arrived in 2022 with no allegiance to Slayton, who was on the books for $2.54 million final season, hardly exorbitant for a participant within the crew’s plans.
Clearly, Slayton was not.
A couple of days earlier than the season was set to start out, he was requested to just accept a pay lower or else lose his job. He was excused from apply for sooner or later, thought of his restricted choices and determined to remain.
His wage was slashed to $965,000.
Was he completely satisfied about it? In fact not.
Did he seem completely satisfied about it? In fact not.
“Run routes, get open and catch the soccer’’ was just about all he would say, when requested, repeatedly, about having his wage lower by greater than half.
Slayton didn’t have a terrific coaching camp — a strained hamstring didn’t assist — and the team-issued depth chart was not type to him.
Within the extensive receiver pecking order, he was behind Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay, rookie Wan’Dale Robinson, Sterling Shepard, Richie James and David Sills.
It was no shock then when Slayton was designated as inactive for the season opener in Nashville, a wholesome scratch because the Giants bought the Daboll period off to a flying begin with a 21-20 victory over the Titans. A wholesome scratch isn’t a wholesome scenario for a participant.
Slayton bought on the sector for 4 snaps in Week 2 and for 14 snaps in Week 3.
His totals three weeks into the season: Zero receptions. Zero targets.
He stored quiet and stored at it.
At a time when so many athletes blame others, Slayton determined to look inward.
“Initially, I damage my hamstring, which held me off form for some time and didn’t enable me to showcase my soccer talents,’’ he mentioned just lately. “There’s at all times loads of methods you possibly can have a look at issues, however to me, I have a look at it as if I’d stretched extra, if I had ready myself extra, if I had simply achieved various things, then I’d’ve by no means damage myself. And I’d’ve had an opportunity to indicate my full capability and what I’m able to. That was type of what I meant by that. I at all times prefer to take accountability in my view in no matter it’s that negatively impacts me. And I do my finest to appropriate it.’’
It wasn’t lengthy earlier than the Giants wanted him.
Shepard and Robinson suffered season-ending accidents. Nagging maladies finally led to Toney getting traded to the Chiefs. And Golladay continued providing little earlier than a knee harm interrupted one other unproductive stretch.
Slayton stepped in, contributing 46 receptions for a team-high 724 yards and two touchdowns. Newcomer Isaiah Hodgins become a pink zone goal, however Slayton was Daniel Jones’ most potent big-play risk.
Even after Slayton helped Jones choose up the tempo within the passing recreation within the second half of the season, and caught 4 passes for 88 yards within the playoff victory over the Vikings, he appeared headed to free company.
And there have been no obtrusive indicators the Giants have been intent on bringing him again.
However after re-signing Shepard and including Jeff Smith from the Jets, they secured Slayton with a two-year deal that features sufficient assured cash — $4.9 million — to point he’s firmly in Daboll’s plans as a pass-catcher.
A day later, the Giants signed one other receiver, Parris Campbell, constructing depth and including velocity on the place.
Slayton, 26, remains to be in his prime. He’s proud that he arrived in the identical draft class as Jones, and he has been one in all Jones’ most vocal supporters. Slayton recalled a time in rookie minicamp when he was taking part in a one-on-one drill with a cornerback, and Jones checked in to see what his receiver needed to run.
“He was like, ‘Shoot, do you wish to run a go ball?’ And I used to be like, ‘As a matter of reality, I do,’’’ Slayton mentioned, laughing on the reminiscence. “Since then, I used to be like, ‘That is my type of man.’ You understand loads of quarterbacks are like, ‘Let me throw a hitch or a slant’ — one thing quick to get them warmed up. I feel from that second on, a minimum of in my head, I used to be like, ‘I can work with this man.’
“And clearly as we performed collectively and I made performs for him and he made performs for me, that belief builds and that connection builds.’’
That connection continues. Towards the percentages, Darius Slayton stays with the Giants.
Ohio State held its Professional Day on Wednesday, an occasion that has develop into one thing of an annual extravaganza.
NFL groups adore drafting gamers from the Buckeyes program, and the expertise pool this 12 months is as much as its customary customary. Quarterback C.J. Stroud might be the primary participant off the board, and lots of extra of his teammates will observe him into the skilled ranks.
The Giants have been well-represented, led by Schoen, his assistant Brandon Brown, Daboll, offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney and offensive line coach Bobby Johnson. Experiences circulated on Tuesday evening that Schoen and Daboll had dinner in Columbus with extensive receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who will hear his title referred to as on April 27 within the first spherical of the NFL Draft.
How important is that this? Nicely, it isn’t insignificant. The overall supervisor and head coach don’t dine with a participant they’ve no real interest in deciding on.
Some steak and/or seafood doesn’t imply the Giants are focusing on Smith-Njigba. It does imply they needed to get to know him higher.
There may be a lot to love about Smith-Njigba’s on-field manufacturing. In 2021, he set a faculty document with 1,606 receiving yards and a Rose Bowl document with 347 receiving yards. His 2022 season was a downer. A hamstring harm restricted him to solely three video games.
He’s a prototypical possession slot receiver with out blazing velocity — he reportedly ran a quick, however not blazing 4.48 within the 40-yard sprint on Wednesday — and there’s a good likelihood he is not going to be out there when the Giants are on the clock with the No. 25 total choose.
Relying on how a lot the Giants find yourself liking him, buying and selling as much as get him is definitely an possibility.
Requested and answered
Listed here are two questions which have come up just lately that we’ll try to reply as precisely as doable:
How a lot of a danger was it for the Giants to amass tight finish Darren Waller in a commerce with the Raiders?
It’s a danger as a result of the choose they gave up — one centesimal total within the 2023 NFL Draft — is a invaluable asset.
It’s a danger as a result of Waller performed in solely 20 whole video games the previous two years, together with being restricted to 9 video games final season due to a big hamstring harm.
It’s a danger as a result of 9 of Waller’s 19 profession touchdowns got here in a single season (2020) — he’s not precisely a fearsome end-zone risk.
It’s a danger as a result of Waller is 31 and could be on the draw back from a bodily and athletic standpoint.
However it isn’t a terrific danger financially despite the fact that the Giants took on the 4 years and $52.5 million remaining on Waller’s contract.
Solely his 2023 base wage of $11 million is assured, that means the Giants can get out of the contract after just one season if Waller is a washout.
If he can replicate or a minimum of strategy his mixed manufacturing in 2019 and 2020 — 197 receptions for two,341 yards and 12 TDs — Waller can be a steal. It doesn’t at all times work out that method.
The Giants added or re-signed a bunch of extensive receivers, but they didn’t make a play for Odell Beckham Jr. Was this new regime not ?
One of many many good issues about this new entrance workplace is that it doesn’t predetermine something.
It might have been straightforward for Schoen to dismiss a doable return by Beckham. Schoen didn’t do this. He organized to have Beckham go to the Giants facility final December for a get-to-know-you assembly whereas additionally trying out his surgically repaired knee.
Schoen then despatched receivers coach Mike Groh and a member of the scouting division to see Beckham’s March 10 exercise in Arizona.
The asking worth was too excessive for the Giants and so they went in numerous instructions, re-signing Slayton and Shepard and bringing in Campbell and Smith.
The Giants took a have a look at the out there gamers on the place and decided their cash was extra correctly spent elsewhere. Although Beckham stays on the open market, the Giants clearly did their due diligence on him