EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — New York Giants wide receiver Kenny Golladay didn’t exactly like coach Brian Daboll’s decision to play him for just two snaps in Sunday’s 19-16 win over the Carolina Panthers.
“Of course I don’t really agree with it. Or like it,” Golladay, who spoke to the media for the first time since the game, said Wednesday. “But I can only control what I can control, who has to come to work every day.”
Golladay, the Giants’ prized free agent acquisition in 2021, didn’t see that coming. He said everyone in the organization told him he was professional and did things the right way.
It makes this quite confusing to Golladay.
“I should play regardless,” he said. “That’s a fact.”
Golladay, 28, was supposed to be the Giants’ No. 1 receiver when he was signed by the previous regime last offseason. He signed a four-year, $72 million deal and is getting $18 million this season.
But Golladay had a rough first year with the team in which he was hampered by injury and did not score a touchdown. He had a procedure that kept him out this spring.
The signs were indeed on the wall this summer when — despite constantly being on the field — Golladay looked compromised by the string of injuries. He surprisingly was one of the few veterans to play in the preseason finale, and he caught two passes for 22 yards on 42 snaps (the most among Giants wide receivers) in the season-opening win over the Tennessee Titans.
Daboll said he told Golladay in the middle of last week that he would go with David Sills V over him against the Panthers. Thresholds went into the contest with two career catches for 17 yards. He is making $825,000 this season.
Golladay has 222 receptions for 3,611 yards and 21 career touchdowns. He led all receivers in 2019 with 11 receiving scores. But it is not beyond reason to think that he has lost a step. Golladay has two touchdown receptions and less than 900 yards receiving in the two-plus seasons since.
The veteran receiver was asked about asking for a change of scenery after being benched for most of Sunday’s game.
“We’ll see how it goes. Yeah, we’ll see how it goes,” Golladay said. “I came here to play. I’m pretty sure they’re paying me to play too. I guess they want to see more or get anything located on their end. I just keep doing what I have to do until I get in . every day.”
It seems unlikely that Golladay can be moved at this point, in part due to the lack of production and his contract. He is still owed $11.6 million in base salary for the rest of this season and another $4.5 million next year.
It’s no problem keeping him around these days. Daboll and several Giants players told ESPN he handled it like a pro.
“It is what it is. It’s a business,” Golladay said. “I’m not here to make friends with coaches. They’re just co-workers for me.”
Daboll has been consistent about saying the wide receiver position is an open competition, and he means business. Richie James leads the Giants with 10 catches and 110 yards receiving.
James was an offseason acquisition that many believed was on the roster bubble. Sills won his way to the team.
Daboll used the same line about competition from the beginning. He took a similar stance back when Golladay was one of the few veterans to play in the third and final preseason game. It was also his reasoning behind last year’s first-round pick, Kadarius Toneyplaying just seven snaps in the opener and Golladay barely getting on the field against the Panthers.
“It’s an ongoing competition at receiver. I’ve been saying it since when? I’m not stupid, I’ve been saying it since the middle of camp, right?” Daboll said Sunday. “It hasn’t changed. It’s going to be a continuous competition.”
He added on Monday: “Again, whether it’s the highest paid player, the lowest paid player, the highest draft pick, an undrafted free agent — we’re going to go out there and let the guys compete it. One week doesn’t necessarily mean this will happen next week. I think everyone understands what we’re trying to do as an organization in terms of continuing to improve, competing for places, working as hard as you can work.”
Daboll doesn’t play favorites based on salary or draft status, and it caught his team’s attention.
“It’s rare, but coach always told us he doesn’t care where you were drafted first round, second round, undrafted. He’s about what he’s talking about,” veteran wide receiver. Sterling Shepard said
Shepard has played the most snaps (102) of any Giants wide receiver so far this season. He is coming off a torn Achilles suffered last season. Sills is second with 91.
If Golladay has a role this season, it will have to be earned, not given based on his past accomplishments. This new regime is not connected to Golladay, who was the Lions’ third-round pick in 2017.
Golladay was optimistic about how Wednesday’s practice went. He said he believes his role this week will likely be a little different.
The Giants (2-0) could need him more Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys. Toney did not participate in Wednesday’s practice due to a lingering hamstring injury.