The New York Giants are in a unique situation heading into training camp. Before the end of the summer, they may have to cut their leading receiver since 2019.
Darius Slayton, a fifth-round pick out of Auburn in the 2019 NFL Draft, has been the Giants’ most productive receiver since joining the team. Through three seasons, he has caught 124 passes for 1,830 yards and 13 touchdowns. No one in a Giants uniform has produced more receiving yards or touchdowns over that span; only Sterling Shepard (159) and Evan Engram (153) have caught more passes.
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Early in his NFL career, Slayton looked like he could develop into a lethal deep threat.
Now, Slayton is suddenly on the roster bubble. Even though the Giants spent the entire spring with their top three wide receivers (Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney and Sterling Shepard) in red non-contact jerseys, Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com reports that Slayton was consistently “relegated to backup duty” and is now “headed toward getting cut or traded.”
Some of that is due to Slayton’s recent performance. After leading the team in receiving yards each of his first two seasons, he posted career-low marks for receptions (26), receiving yards (339) and receiving touchdowns (2) last season. He also dropped six passes, per Pro-Football-Reference.com, which was more than 10 percent of his total targets.
This drop against Washington in Week 2 last year was particularly painful.
While Slayton has still been struggling with drops at practice, per Rosenblatt’s report, his early career success is also working against him when it comes to him making the roster this season. Dan Duggan of The Athletic recently provided an interesting financial breakdown of why Slayton has suddenly found himself on the roster bubble.
Here’s an excerpt of Duggan’s report:
As a 2019 fifth-round pick, Slayton would have been due a $965,000 salary this season in the final year of his rookie contract. But Slayton’s salary has increased to $2.5 million because he earned a proven performance escalator by playing more than 35 percent of the Giants’ offensive snaps in his first three seasons.
It’s a noble idea to reward players who have outperformed their draft slot like Slayton, who has 124 catches for 1,830 yards and 13 touchdowns in three seasons. The problem is that the increased salary, which contains no guarantees, makes Slayton more vulnerable to getting cut, especially with the Giants’ tight salary-cap situation.
Basically, if Slayton hadn’t been so productive and involved in the offense his first few seasons, he might have a better chance to make the team this year because he’d be roughly $1.5 million cheaper to keep on the roster.
Slayton Still Thinks He Can Save His Roster Spot
While much of this analysis makes it sound like a foregone conclusion that Slayton will not be on the Giants for the 2022 season, the fourth-year wide receiver shared a different opinion while speaking to the media earlier this month.
(Skip to 2:45 mark for Slayton’s answer to a roster bubble question)
“At the end of the day, it’s a performance-based business,” Slayton said, via the Giants’ official YouTube channel. “I believe in putting my best foot forward, and when it’s all said and done, if I do what I’m supposed to do, I’ll be in there.”
Slayton may face an uphill battle to retain his roster spot, but it sounds like he has the right mentality heading into training camp.
Basic Giants Training Camp Information
Although the exact dates have not yet been announced by the team, the Giants will open up training camp next month.
The Giants will hold training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and fans will be allowed to attend the practices for the first time since 2019. Also, in the run up to their preseason game against the New York Jets, the Giants will hold joint training camp practices with their crosstown rivals.