NFL News & Analysis

2021 NFL Free Agency: Kenny Golladay, New York Giants agree to 4-year, $72 million deal

Denver, Colorado, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay (19) celebrates his touchdown reception in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The last remaining true X receiver available in free agency is finally off the board.

While Kenny Golladay had reported interest from the Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens, the New York Giants ended up closing the deal. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the fifth-year wide receiver agreed to a four-year, $72 million dollar deal — up to $76 million after incentives — with Big Blue on Friday that includes $40 million in guaranteed money.

The Giants seemingly had the most traction on a potential Golladay deal throughout the week. And it’s a fit that makes sense.

More from PFF's live free-agency coverage: 

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The Giants were clearly missing an alpha wide receiver last season. They had solid complementary pieces in place, though, with Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley. New York also went out and brought in John Ross and Kyle Rudolph early in free agency. The hope is that Golladay ties all of those pieces together for third-year quarterback Daniel Jones

Golladay’s 86.2 PFF grade over the past three seasons ranks 18th among 117 qualifying wide receivers. A hip injury limited him to just five appearances in 2020, but despite that, Golladay still ranks near the top of the league in two notable areas: downfield receiving yardage and contested catches. 

Since 2018, Golladay’s 1,072 receiving yards on 20-plus-yard targets ranks fourth in the NFL — behind only Tyreek Hill, Mike Evans and Stefon Diggs. His 53 contested catches over that same stretch are fewer than only Allen Robinson II’s total. He’s truly one of the best “go up and get it” receivers the league has to offer. That’s a skill set the Giants’ offense lacked in 2020. 

Golladay’s ability to come down with 50-50 balls should provide Jones a boost in his third year with the team. It’s setting up to be a make-or-break year for the former first-round pick out of Duke. 

Jones’ 2020 grade told a far different story than his traditional passing numbers. He ended last season as PFF’s 17th-highest-graded quarterback but ranked just 29th among 32 qualifiers in passer rating (80.4). That difference can be partially attributed to bad luck. It also signals that Jones’ receivers weren’t giving him much help, turning ordinary throws into extraordinary plays.  

The Giants have clearly made an effort over the past three weeks to try and change that, targeting the wide receiver and tight end positions in free agency. The last thing you want with a quarterback like Jones is to be uncertain about whether he’s the right fit for the franchise, similar to what the New York Jets are faced with this offseason in their evaluation of Sam Darnold. The Jets are in position to take a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but there has been some speculation that Darnold is still worth building around entering his fourth year, given that he hasn’t had a legitimate offense at his disposal to this point. 

New York’s addition of Golladay is an attempt to avoid that situation with Jones one year from now.

As for the contract, this is a strong deal for Golladay coming off injury. The $18 million per year average places him just outside of the five highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL and in line with Tyreek Hill and Odell Beckham Jr. In a down free agent wide receiver market, it was tremendous work by Todd France and company to get a long-term deal done at the $18 million per year that Golladay wanted. 

It’s hard to fault the Giants too much, though. The $40 million in guarantees makes it essentially a two-year deal, and Golladay does add a much-needed presence to their offense, as discussed earlier.  

This likely signals the end of major spending for the Giants, but it looks as if they accomplished both of their priorities — re-signing Leonard Williams to a long-term deal and adding a No. 1 receiver. The next step is to address needs at interior offensive line, edge rusher and cornerback around the margins in free agency and in the 2020 NFL Draft. But enjoy this move for now, Giants fans. You have your WR1.

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