The interest is there, always has been. The need is there, too. The Giants are bringing Kenny Golladay, the best available wide receiver on the open market, in for a visit. Talks are underway as to what it will take in a contract to make a deal.
This is not a drill. It could happen, and if it does, just like that the Giants would look and feel markedly different. Markedly better.
The NFL is allowing free agency visits this year, as long as COVID-19 testing and protocols are in place. There will not be the elaborate wine-and-dine dinners with the coaching staff that came with these meetings in pre-pandemic times. Head coach Joe Judge and his staff will get Golladay in their building, The Post confirmed, getting a feel for him, allowing him to get a feel for them. The Giants will also give Golladay a physical — do not forget, he played in just five games in 2020 while dealing with a hip-flexor injury.
If the Giants do this right, they would unburden themselves the night of April 29, when they own the No. 11-overall pick in the draft and would prefer not to make that selection from a place of desperation.
There is no secret — it is more like billboard material — that the Giants are on the lookout for impact players for their offense. This is not a wish-list item. It is a do-to-list item. It is a necessity, not a luxury. Their ability to score points in 2020 — the first year of the Judge regime, with Jason Garrett calling the plays as the offensive coordinator — was lousy. Appallingly bad.
The Giants are committed to Daniel Jones and leaning on a young offensive line, salivating for the return of star running back Saquon Barkley to full health following knee surgery. They believe Darius Slayton, in year No. 3, can develop into a big-play threat at receiver. They know Sterling Shepard is reliable and tough to handle when operating out of the slot. They are hopeful tight end Evan Engram can finally figure it out and harness the talent within him.
But they need more, and they know it.
The current climate is tepid for wide receivers, with depressed salary-cap space throughout the league, and perhaps the Giants can use this to their advantage. Corey Davis got a three-year deal averaging $12.5 million from the Jets. Golladay will get more, but maybe not overwhelmingly more, considering the market. Golladay reportedly has a one-year prove-it offer from the Bengals. Other teams are interested. The visit to the Giants could be the deciding factor, depending how eager they are to ante up.
The rest of the NFL knows the deal, as do the Giants. The upcoming draft is loaded with wide receivers. You thought it was a deep crop in 2020? That was a wading pool compared to the depth this year. Why overpay for a receiver in his mid-to-late 20s when there are so many young studs waiting for their call in the first, second or third round of the draft?
Sure, the Giants could wait it out and hope Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith — damn, no wonder Alabama wins all the time — is still on the board for them. Or else they could take Kyle Pitts, a weaponized tight end from Florida. This is not a bad plan, but it is not an inventive or inspired plan, either.
If the Giants can scratch their receiver itch now, they would be freed up to do whatever the heck they want in the draft. Go for a pass rusher early. They crave a No. 2 cornerback to pair with James Bradberry. Heck, even with Golladay, double down and take a receiver, because the more threats for Jones, the better. Make the call based on a position of relative strength, rather than telegraph to the other 31 teams what your intentions are based on what you did not do in free agency.
Golladay, 27, is not in the stratosphere of the best receivers in the league, and the Giants will not pay him that way. He is plenty good, though, and at 6-foot-4 would provide the length their offense is missing. Wednesday was 16 years to the day — March 17, 2005 — since the Giants signed Plaxico Burress, and all that did was change the relevancy of their entire offense and give Eli Manning the rangy target he needed to take his game to the next level. Could Golladay do the same for Jones? Why not?
Co-owner John Mara has said adding pieces on offense around Jones “will be a priority for us.’’ The Giants should be about $10 million under the cap and can rework existing contracts to gain more space. Golladay is out there and making plans to visit. If they get him to stay and sign, it’s a whole new ballgame.