With Hakeem Nick set to hit free agency, the New York Giants‘ top two receivers will be Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle. While Randle has shown potential in his first two seasons, the Giants can’t rely on him to start opposite Cruz.
At the end of the 2012 season, Randle hauled in four passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns on the last day of the season against the Philadelphia Eagles. It seemed he was poised for a breakout season in 2013, but even with Nick’s struggles, Randle was only able to record 41 receptions for 611 yards and six touchdowns.
What’s worse was Randle’s inconsistency. He had 10 games where he failed to record 50 receiving yards, and a lot of Eli Manning‘s interceptions came on passes targeted for Randle. Plus, Randle had several mental gaffes throughout the season. Even Jerry Reese recently said he wasn’t sure what to expect of Randle going into next season.
While the third-year can oftentimes be the charm for NFL players, we’ve seen what the Giants’ offense looks like without a reliable second option across from Cruz. The Giants have to head into the season with more than hope that they have the answer. With the additional cap room, the team should target a reliable second receiver in free agency. There are some talented receivers in the draft, but the Giants should focus offensive line in the first-round and it would be tough to rely on a second-round pick for high-end contributions in his rookie year.
Jerrel Jernigan is certainly an intriguing internal option. Over the last three games of the season, he caught 19 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns, plus he had a 49-yard touchdown run on an end-around. But like Randle, the former third-round pick is more promise than certainty at this point in his career.
With the offensive ineptitude the Giants displayed last season, it’s important to add established personnel. They need more reliable options if they want Manning to have a bounce-back year.