The Giants and Jets made free-agent splatters to wide receiver over the past week. Now, we can look over the next few years to see who made the best decision.
The Giants signed Kenny Golladay to a four-year, $ 72 million contract with $ 40 million guaranteed on Saturday. They grabbed the catcher that most observers rated as the best available in free agency. At $ 18 million a year, there are questions about whether they overpaid, but if that helps quarterback Daniel Jones develop, no one will worry about the money in three years.
The Jets attacked quickly last Monday when the trading window opened, locking Corey Davis to a three-year, $ 37.5 million contract that includes a $ 27 million guaranteed.
Both teams were in dire need of a wide receiver upgrade to help their young quarterbacks. This market fitted perfectly for them as there were more good receivers available than usual thanks to the decreasing salary cap. Even after Allen Robinson (Bears) and Chris Godwin (Buccaneers) received the franchise tag, the Giants and Jets had good options.
Giants general manager Dave Gettleman decided to buy into Tiffany’s and sign the most expensive catcher on the market to give Jones a new number one goal. The move carries some risk because Golladay only played five games last season for the Lions and is now under pressure to fulfill his contract.
Jets general manager Joe Douglas deemed Golladay too expensive and instead targeted Davis. The Jets like the way it fits in with their offense and they think he’s entering his prime. Davis was the No. 5 pick in the Titans’ 2017 draft, so he has lived with pressure his entire NFL career. The new contract will not add to that. The Jets haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2015 and they need someone to help whoever their quarterback is in 2021, be it Sam Darnold or Zach Wilson or someone else.
Comparing the two receivers, Golladay has had more production, but his 2020 season raises some questions. Golladay has had two 1,000-yard receiving seasons and has 21 career touchdowns. His best season was in 2019 when he had 65 receptions for 1,190 yards and 11 touchdowns. A hip injury kept Golladay out of the game for all but five games last year and there were some questions about how much he tried to get back on the field. Clearly, the Giants got satisfactory answers on those issues during their visit.
Davis was considered a disappointment in Tennessee after being selected so high in the draft and then struggling early on. Davis has only 11 touchdowns in his career. Golladay did that in one season. But Davis had his best season last year. He caught 65 passes for 984 yards and five touchdowns. The main question about Davis is how he will fare away from Tennessee’s talented offense. He was receiving passes from Ryan Tannehill, who has become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The Titans also had AJ Brown on the opposite side of Davis and Derrick Henry in the backfield to give them a strong running game and help set up passing game action.
If you look at the Pro Football Focus ratings for the past three seasons, Davis had the best season of the two. His 2020 rating of 85.3 was ranked 10th out of 127 wide receivers. Golladay had a rating of 81.0 in 2018, which was 21 of 118 receivers. Golladay earned a rating of 79.9 in 2019 and did not qualify in 2020. Davis earned a rating of 70.4 in 2019 and 76.4 in 2018.
We will probably have a good answer in two years as to which transfer was better. Davis’s contract is not guaranteed money beyond 2022, so the Jets can move on if it disappoints. Golladay’s contract is more of a three-year commitment in terms of when the Giants could comfortably move forward.
The Giants made a much bigger financial commitment than the Jets. Not only in terms of guaranteed money ($ 40 million vs. $ 27 million), but also in average annual value. Golladay’s $ 18 million per year AAV is tied for sixth among receivers. Davis’ $ 12.5 million is ranked 20th.
Both teams believe they improved as receivers in the last week. Now we will see if they are right and who made the best decision.