The level of ineptitude that the New York Giants‘ offense reached this season was the final result of a number of fundamental deficiencies. From the offensive line to the quarterback to the wide receivers, everyone contributed to the struggles the Giants suffered through. If New York wants to move forward and improve, the wide receiving corps is one of the many areas that must be upgraded.
Right now, Victor Cruz is New York’s No. 1 receiver. The fact that he is a slot receiver is irrelevant. Prior to the knee injury he suffered in Week 15, Cruz was the only Giants receiver who was a reliable target for Eli Manning game in and game out. Even in a year where Manning experienced his worst struggles since he was a rookie, Cruz racked up 998 receiving yards. He surely would have had his third consecutive 1,000-yard season if he did not miss the final two games.
Hakeem Nicks has seemingly played his last down as a Giant after the disappointing season he had. Nicks finished with no touchdowns and looked less explosive than he ever has, even when playing through injuries. He was slow and shaky on the outside, dropping passes he would have easily caught in the recent past. Considering this was the last year on Nicks’ contract, bringing him back would seem like a lateral move.
Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan are two receivers who showed glimpses of great promise at different times this season. Randle led the Giants in receiving touchdowns with six, but was fourth in receptions with just 41 on the year. The Giants had dreams of Randle coming into his own as the team’s No. 1 or No. 2 receiver this season, but now it looks like they may have to wait another year or two for that to happen.
Jernigan stepped in for the injured Cruz over the last two and a half games of the season, where he excelled each time out. Over the last three games of the season, Jernigan caught 19 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for another score. Jernigan may continue to evolve into a strong player for New York, but he is also a slot receiver for the most part, just like Cruz. That doesn’t mean the Giants won’t be able to use Jernigan in the future, but it may limit his time to a degree.
With Nicks’ departure and Randle’s slow ascension, the Giants will need to add another receiver in the offseason. They can do this in two ways — they could use a first or second round draft pick on a receiver, like Sammy Watkins out of Clemson, who is capable of making an immediate impact, or they could also target a free agent and try to lure him to New York. A couple of free agents available after this season include the Denver Broncos‘ Eric Decker and Seattle Seahawks‘ Golden Tate.
Whether it is the draft or free agency, the Giants need another talent on the outside. Another year like this one should not be an option for New York’s front office.