Kenny Golladay played only two snaps last week and the Giants’ high-priced wide receiver is not happy about it.
Whether the lack of activity was because of his practice habits or because this new coaching staff does not believe he earned more time on the field, Golladay sees, in his view, a certain truism:
“I should be playing, regardless,” he said Wednesday at his locker after practice.
Why is that?
“That’s a fact,” he said.
The Giants are 2-0 and Golladay has not been part of the success. And he is clearly confused and agitated that head coach Brian Daboll has not found a place for him within the offense.
Golladay played 46 snaps (77 percent) in the 21-20 victory over the Titans and had two receptions for 22 yards. In Week 2, he was a spectator — two snaps — as the Giants came back to beat the Panthers 19-16.
“I didn’t like the decision, whatever,” Golladay said. “Even people on the team were like ‘What’s going on?’ ”
Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen inherited Golladay. More to the point, they inherited Golladay’s bloated contract — four years, $72 million — and knew the 28-year old receiver was unmovable in 2022. His base salary for this season is fully guaranteed at $13 million — he counts $21.1 million on the salary cap — and if he was released, it would create more than $25 million in dead money and actually add nearly $5 million to this year’s cap.
Golladay led the NFL with 11 touchdown catches in 2019 with the Lions, and the Giants in 2021 believed they were getting a 6-foot-4 target who would be a weapon in the red zone and make contested catches all over the field. He was part of a dysfunctional Giants offense last season and in 14 games caught only 37 passes for 521 yards and no touchdowns.
It was a slog for Golladay all summer. Schoen said Golladay underwent an unspecified medical procedure in the offseason, keeping him off the field in the spring. His training camp was uneventful.
Daboll insists he is running a meritocracy and that playing time goes to those who earn it, regardless of pedigree, salary or standing on the roster. Richie James, picked up from the 49ers, and Davis Sills, a former practice squad player, have received more time on the field than Golladay.
Daboll informed Golladay last week that he would not be part of the wide receiver rotation against the Panthers. Golladay said he “agreed to disagree” with Daboll when he was told of his reduced role.
“It wasn’t like there was an argument or any back and forth,” Golladay said. “I just accepted what he said.”
Is his relationship with Daboll fractured?
“I mean, it is what it is, it’s a business,” Golladay said. “I’m not here to be friends with coaches. They’re just co-workers to me.”
Daboll has maintained that Golladay handled the demotion professionally.
“That’s why it’s a little bit confusing, because everybody in this building tells me I do everything the right way and be a pro at whatever I do,” Golladay said. “So it’s a little confusing.”
Golladay stopped short of saying he would request a trade — dealing him is untenable — if his playing time does not increase.
“We’re not going to get into all that right now,” he said. “We’re going into Week 3, we’re gonna see how it goes. There’s a lot of football left.”
Based on his conversations with Daboll and seeing the game plan for Monday night’s game against the Cowboys, Golladay feels he will have more of a role.
“I think it’s probably gonna be a little different,” he said. “I’m preparing like I’m gonna be playing but who knows?”
This is the first speed bump for Daboll, who has turned around the Giants’ recent history of early-season losing. Kadarius Toney, another receiver considered to be a starter and key contributor, played only seven snaps in the opener. Golladay said last week was the first game in his life that he was healthy and yet was not involved in the action on the field.
“I came here to play,” he said. “I’m pretty sure they’re also paying me to play. They want to see more I guess.
“I really don’t agree with it or like it. But I can only control what I can control, and that’s coming to work every day. If I was in the game [vs. the Panthers], I feel like everything that was done in the game I for sure could’ve done. We won at the end of the day, which is good.”