This past offseason, critics were all over the New York Giants’ needs and the one position that continued to pop up was wide receiver.
Especially, a No. 1 wide receiver.
General manager Joe Schoen told reporters on more than one occasion that he felt a team could win consistently without a ‘No. 1′ wideout. Yet, the critics railed on.
Schoen did fortify his receiving corps this offseason, trading for Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller, adding speedster Parris Campbell in free agency and then drafting Tennessee deep threat Jalin Hyatt.
Schoen also adroitly re-signed the Giants’ top wide receiver over the past four seasons, Darius Slayton.
Slayton was a fifth-round draft pick out of Auburn in 2019 and immediately formed a bond with fellow rookie Daniel Jones, the Giants’ quarterback. Slayton was as big a ‘go-to’ receiver as someone the biggest names in the NFL.
From Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post:
Slayton, who has 170 catches for 2,554 yards and 15 touchdowns in 59 games (40 starts) over his first four NFL seasons, appears on that list next to future Hall of Famers, Offensive Player of the Year winners, All-Pros, Pro Bowlers and contract record-setters.
Surprised? Here is the full group of three- or four-time leading receivers from 2019-22: Diggs (Bills), Justin Jefferson (Vikings), Davante Adams (Packers), Cooper Kupp (Rams), A.J. Brown (Titans), Travis Kelce (Chiefs), Mark Andrews (Ravens), Terry McLaurin (Commanders), D.J. Moore (Panthers), Diontae Johnson (Steelers), Brandin Cooks (Texans), Jakobi Meyers (Patriots) and Slayton (740 yards in 2019, 751 in 2020 and 724 in 2022).
Slayton sees himself as No. 1 and explained to The Post why he feels that way.
“You see this guy go for 1,010 [yards] or see a guy go for 100 yards every week, and you go, ‘He’s really good,’” Slayton said. “Some of these guys play with nobody. I play with Saquon [Barkley]. Where do you think the ball is going first? Not me. We had Shep (Sterling Shepard), Evan Engram and now Darren.”
“I didn’t play with just a bunch of bums. That’s a little annoying because at the end of the day, it’s not like I’ve ever been the only person or one person to get the ball, whereas somebody [else] is. It is what it is. At the end of the day, I just play to win. As long as the Giants win, I’ll be alright.”
And that is what the Giants believe as well. They are not locked into individual statistics. That is why Slayton, who was once thought to be on his way out of New York, is back on a multi-year deal.