It took a little bit of time, but the Giants finally landed the No. 1 wideout they’ve been linked to for the past month. Kenny Golladay is headed to NYC on a massive four-year deal worth up to $72 million. Per Over The Cap, Golladay is now the seventh-highest paid receiver on a per year basis behind DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Keenan Allen, Amari Cooper, Michael Thomas, and Tyreek Hill. In fact, Golladay’s contract value is basically exactly what Stefon Diggs signed last year ($72M; $40M total guaranteed), except Diggs’ deal was a five-year extension.
Between Golladay, Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, Darius Slayton, and Sterling Shepard — GM Dave Gettleman has certainly set up Daniel Jones with a diverse group of skill players around him. Golladay’s signing will kick Shepard inside as their primary slot receiver and will allow OC Jason Garrett to move Engram around as a mismatch chess piece.
The pressure is on Jones to perform now.
Plenty are already comparing the Golladay signing to Diggs’ impact on Josh Allen and the Bills offense last year. There are a few problems with jumping to that conclusion. But in my opinion, the first issue with that is that Allen’s physical ability was never in question. Jones’ is. It’s totally fair to question whether or not Jones is the right answer for the Giants long-term at this point.
First and foremost, Jones has to clean up his game a bit. The turnovers have been absolutely killer.
As far as historical references go, Jones is among a less than inspiring group of QBs in turnover rate. Among QBs with at least 16 career starts, Jones (1.4) ranks sixth-worst in turnovers/game behind Deshone Kizer (1.7), Charlie Frye (1.5), Rex Grossman (1.5), Jameis Winston (1.5), and John Skelton (1.5). Yikes.
Now, to be fair, the Giants offensive line has been extremely up-and-down and things aren’t any different heading into 2021. RG Kevin Zeitler was Jones’ most consistent lineman and he’s now gone after his two seasons, and the team is waiting for LG Will Hernandez to play up to his potential. Andrew Thomas will protect Jones’ blindside, but the Giants still have a massive question mark at right tackle.
The Giants subpar blocking last year resulted in Jones being pressured on a whopping 40% of his dropbacks, which was the second-highest rate in the league per PFF behind only Sam Darnold and the Jets (41% pressure rate).
The problem is that Jones hasn’t exactly been efficient when he does get clean blocking. Over the last two years, Jones has earned a 91.8 passer rating from a clean pocket — which ranks 31st out of 38 QBs.
In fact, Jones actually regressed a bit last year. According to SIS, Jones threw an on-target ball on 84% of his non-pressured throws in his rookie season, which actually ranked sixth-best out of 33 QBs. Jones’ accuracy from a clean pocket dipped to 79% last year (26th-of-36 QBs).
Getting a true, game-changing X-receiver will help. But expecting Jones to automatically make the same third-year leap like Josh Allen did probably isn’t wise. Allen is the exception, not the rule.
For fantasy, we need Jones to be able to push the ball aggressively downfield and into tight windows for Golladay to hit his ceiling. As Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception data shows, Golladay isn’t a truly elite separator — earning a 74th percentile success rate against man and a 54th percentile score vs. zone.
Instead, Golladay wins in 50/50 situations as a vertical receiver. Will Jones give him those chances? Well, there are reasons for optimism.
Jones is a fairly aggressive QB…
|Year||Tight Window Throw (%)|
(Data from Next Gen Stats).
While Jones hasn’t been afraid to throw into tight windows, he hasn’t thrown deep all that often. Adding Golladay will change that for sure.
… But he doesn’t throw deep often
|Year||Deep Ball% (20+ yards in air)|
|2019||11.8% (21st-of-36 QBs)|
|2020||9.6% (31st-of-39 QBs)|
It’s worth noting that Golladay’s monster 2019 season (65/1190/11) when he finished as the WR12 in fantasy points per game came with Matthew Stafford chucking it deep at the league’s highest rate (19.2%).
My main concern for Golladay in New York has nothing to do with Jones, though. Even though he’s flawed, I think Jones is capable enough to support a WR1 in fantasy. I’m way more concerned about Jason Garrett as the offensive coordinator.
Last year, Garrett’s Giants were the fifth-most run-heavy team (51%) on early downs when the game was within a score. Only the Patriots (52%), Broncos (53%), Ravens (56%), and Titans (56%) ran more often.
It didn’t matter if the Giants were trailing either. Even when they were in catch-up mode, Garrett relied on the run.
They went 41% run-heavy on early downs when they were behind on the scoreboard — which was tied with the Browns for the sixth-highest rate. The Browns… With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Even without Saquon Barkley, Garrett thought he could be as run-heavy as the Browns even though his top two running backs were Wayne Gallman and Alfred Morris.
Just how much will Garrett run the ball in 2021 with Barkley back to 100%? Will Garrett know how to properly set up this passing attack? Will he let Jones loose on deep throws to Golladay? Who is replacing Zeitler at RG? Who wins the RT job — Matt Peart or veteran Nate Solder?
Golladay gives Jones the alpha-X receiver he has been missing, but I’m not totally convinced that the Giants have the offensive line or coordinator necessary to make all of these pieces work.