While there are levels of injury concern in the wide receiving room, the New York Giants can say they have depth in that unit. The team has a blend of receiving veterans and young players in Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, rookie Wan’Dale Robinson, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and Collin Johnson.
There is one receiver of that group that could be on the outside looking in after rosters are cut down to 53 players before the season.
In a list of “one player each NFL team should cut before the 2022 season,” Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton named Slayton as the odd-man out.
Slayton has seen his reps drop in training camp after an underwhelming 2021 campaign.
“Time is running out for fourth-year receiver Darius Slayton after he missed four games last year and saw a massive dip in production when he did play,” Wharton wrote. “After running with the second and third teams in the Giants’ first preseason game, Slayton may be auditioning for his next opportunity.
Slayton has one year remaining on an elevated salary of $2.54 million in 2022.
Slayton Career Timeline
Giants fans were loving the production coming out of Slayton during his 2019 rookie campaign. The fifth-round pick caught 48 receptions for 740 yards and eight touchdowns in 14 games while dropping just two passes.
Slayton would have 50 receptions in 2020 — two more than his 48 in 2019 — but in two more games. His production went even further downhill last season, recording 26 receptions in 13 games. He also had six drops in each of the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
There’s a reason to believe that Slayton is expendable, and the Giants showed signs of possibly moving on from him. According to an April story by Dan Duggan of The Athletic, the Giants were shopping Slayton before the 2022 draft.
When Sterling Shepard returns from his torn Achilles injury, Slayton projects as the fifth wide receiver on the Giants offense, which features Golladay, Toney and second-round rookie Wan’Dale Robinson.
Third-year receiver Johnson is also in the rear-view mirror of Slayton. Johnson caught seven receptions on eight targets for 82 yards during last week’s opener. He had 14 snaps with the first team, which was nine more than Slayton. The 25-year-old Slayton caught one reception for 17 yards on two targets.
Injury Risk in WR Room
We mentioned at the beginning of this article that the Giants’ wide receiver unit has question marks regarding health.
Shepard is returning from his torn Achilles injury and only played seven games last season. It’ll take time for him to ease back into things. Golladay and Toney missed time last season. Toney did not make the trip to Foxboro, Mass last week as the Giants are managing Toney’s reps throughout camp as he returns from offseason knee surgery.
Still, Slayton’s future in New York doesn’t look ideal.
Robinson is certainly ahead in the pecking order of Slayton. The rookie has impressed throughout training camp and was listed on the first-team offense on the Giants’ first unofficial depth chart.
Johnson is also in better standing than Slayton. In a recent conversation with reporters, head coach Brian Daboll spoke of what he has seen from the 2020 fifth-round pick.
“He’s made the most of his opportunities,” Daboll said on Aug. 16. “If he does well, he’ll get more opportunities. He’s smart, he’s got position flexibility in terms of intelligence, understanding the roster. He’s made plays, he’s done a nice job.”
The injury risk surrounding the receiving position could help Slayton’s standing on the roster. His experience with quarterback Daniel Jones also makes him a valuable option.
The Giants also wouldn’t be able to get much out of trading Slayton. He was drafted originally in the fifth round, and his value is likely worse. If Slayton’s future is over in New York, it would either be through a release or a sixth-round return for the Giants.
It would make the most sense to see how he does during the next two preseason games and assess his future from there.