Two big-money wide receivers in the NFL’s largest market.
So how will the Kenny Golladay and Corey Davis signings work out for the Giants and Jets? And might Jets GM Joe Douglas — who got Davis for much cheaper than Golladay — wind up getting the last laugh at Giants GM Dave Gettleman?
The Giants signed Golladay for four years, at $18 million per year. He got $40 million guaranteed, and he’ll surely receive all of that. Plus, it’s probable Golladay got a three-year commitment, in terms of when the Giants could realistically get out the contract, if he stinks.
Davis, meanwhile, got a three-year contract from the Jets, at $12.5 million per year. He landed $27 million guaranteed. It’s all fully guaranteed — and all in the first two years. So it’s a two-year commitment, with no guaranteed money into the third season.
Bottom line: The Giants spent a whole lot more on Golladay than the Jets did on Davis.
It’s impossible to say right now that Golladay definitely is worth this contract. Entering free agency, former Giants running back Tiki Barber predicted Golladay would get exactly this kind of deal from a receiver-needy team — and said it would be the wrong move.
“He’s going to get $18 million a year — and it’s stupid,” Barber told NJ Advance Media. “But somebody is going to give it to him.”
Sure enough, Gettleman did. You can’t really blame him for splurging like this, of course, because he desperately needed a No. 1 receiver. It’s not like this is a clearly dumb contract — like the Golden Tate deal from two years ago. Golladay, a 27 years old, is still in his prime.
And just by the nature of free agency — with teams competing for a limited number of good players — overpaying is going to happen. There’s no getting around it.
But Golladay will have to play a lot better — and more consistently — than he has so far, in order to live up to this deal. He can’t be the guy who was limited to five games last season, or even the guy who caught just five touchdowns in 2018 (though he did have 1,063 yards). He’ll need to replicate 2019, his only dominant season — 1,190 yards and 11 touchdowns.
It won’t be easy.
Davis has a lower bar to clear, but needs to elevate his play. (They’re comparable receivers, since Golladay is 6-foot-4 and 214 pounds, and Davis is 6-3 and 209 pounds. Davis is a year younger than Golladay.)
Davis hasn’t had a dominant season like Golladay. Davis’ two best seasons are 2018 and 2020 — 891 and 984 yards, with four and five touchdowns. But at $27 million over two years, Davis needs to play at a Pro Bowl level to justify his contract. And he hasn’t reached that level yet.
In free agency, you don’t always get what you pay for. The Jets are well aware of that, since three years ago, they gave cornerback Trumaine Johnson one of worst free agent contracts in recent NFL history — $34 million for two miserable seasons.
It’s difficult to imagine Davis or Golladay being a complete disgrace, like Johnson was. But it’s entirely possible neither receiver truly plays up to his contract — especially since the Jets and Giants both have unproven-to-shaky quarterback situations right now.
And considering the improvement Davis must make, in order to truly earn his money, it’s not a lock that Douglas will indeed get the last laugh.
Get Giants text messages: Cut through the clutter of social media and text directly with beat writers. Plus, exclusive news and analysis. Sign up now for a free trial.
Thank you for relying on us to provide the journalism you can trust. Please consider supporting NJ.com with a subscription.