Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 03-20-21

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he was one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls up until last year. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Dave Klein
When this 2021 season finally opens, the Giants will be able to put running back Saquon Barkley on the field. And tight end Kyle Rudolph. Oh, and now super wide receiver Kenny Golladay, who was signed Saturday after two days of negotiating to a contract reportedly worth $72 million over four years.

Quarterback Daniel Jones was limited to a one-word exclamation when he heard the news: "WOW!"

And so general manager Dave Gettleman finally got his man, and with the offense now solid at wide receiver, better at tight end and obviously improved (by association) at quarterback, all he has to worry about is his young offensive line - and that unit showed great improvement last season.

Golladay, 6-4 and 215, spent his first four NFL seasons with the Detroit Lions, who drafted him in 2017 in the third round out of Northern Illinois. He was graded the top veteran free agent available in this year's frenzy, and he apparently turned down offers from Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and at least three other teams.

He had a figure in mind, and it was apparently too high for the others. He and his agent wanted between $16 million and $18 million a year, but Gettleman, after three days of negotiations, extended the length to a fourth year, added a $4 million guarantee and a deal was struck.

Now the Giants' offense can go to Barkley, arguably the best running back in the NFL when healthy (he was lost after the second game last season with a torn knee). It can utilize a revitalized tight end area, where both Evan Engram and the veteran Rudolph might both be on the field at the same time. And Jones can go to one of the most dazzling wide receivers in the league, with Darius Slayton at the other side and Sterling Shepard doing what he does best, lining up in the slot.

The pressure, one might suggest, is now on offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and the offensive line, will consist of starters Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart at tackles, Will Hernandez and Shane Lemieux at guards and Nick Gates at center. It's the same group that showed major improvement last season, and now there will be veteran tackle Nate Solder back on the team after opting out last season.

Out of the spotlight in all this, but equally crucial, was head coach Joe Judge, who reportedly was determined to sit in during all the negotiations and bringing Golladay into the building in the first place. He is the epitome of the "hands on" coach and was determined to make this a "group approval" signing.

He also wanted to gauge Golladay's personality himself, which is something he picked up from his coaching idols, New England's Bill Belichick and Alabama's Nick Saban. The mantra of those two men is that nothing happens to "my team" without "my approval."

The signing also eliminated any possible excuse Jones might have had for not progressing to the Giants' lofty hopes for him as the sixth overall draft in 2019. He'll have big wide receiver with great speed, perhaps the next Plaxico Burress in the team's arsenal. He'll have Barkley, whose knee is said to be completely healed and thus insuring his return to Wonder Boy among running backs.

He'll have an experienced tight end in Rudolph, a 10-year veteran, and he'll have an improving offensive line plus a game plan not hampered by weaknesses. The $18 million annual average salary is the highest for a wide receiver this year in free agency.

During his four seasons in Detroit, Golladay caught 163 passes for 3,368 yards and 21 touchdowns, including 68 receptions of 30 yards or more. He played in only five games for the Lions last season, hampered for much of the year with an aggravated hip flexor - which has been examined and judged to be fine.

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