Sterling Shepard is back, but the New York Giants aren’t done reshuffling the deck at wide receiver during 2023 NFL free agency. Their plans could include recruiting a veteran well known to head coach Brian Daboll.
Cole Beasley played for Daboll for three seasons when the latter was offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills. Now, Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News reported the Giants “have eyes on” the 33-year-old slot specialist:
Leonard’s reference to the Giants also liking Indianapolis Colts’ wideout Parris Campbell is intriguing, but Beasley’s name carries more weight. That’s thanks to how productive he was on Daboll’s watch.
Brian Daboll Favorite Would Be an Asset For the Giants
Beasley joined the Bills from the Dallas Cowboys in 2019 and quickly became a staple of the passing schemes Daboll designed for Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen. Beasley caught 67 passes during his first season in the AFC East, before registering back-to-back 82-catch campaigns.
He did most of his damage from the slot, with PFF BUF Bills noting Beasley trailed only Los Angeles Rams’ receiving kingpin Cooper Kupp from the inside:
The only issue with those numbers is how closely Beasley compares to more than one wide receiver already on the Giants’ roster. At 5’8″ and 174 pounds, the veteran’s physical makeup is similar to both 5’8″, 185-pound Wan’Dale Robinson and 5’10”, 196-pounder Shepard.
There’s a profile to the type of receivers the Giants are targeting. It’s the same profile that led to Richie James in last year’s free-agent market, with the 5’9″ speedster tying for the team lead with 57 receptions.
James is a free agent, and the Giants have safeguarded themselves against not brining him back by re-signing Shepard on a one-year deal. The only risk is Shepard’s lengthy injury record, which is most recently highlighted by a torn ACL suffered in Week 3 last season. It’s the same injury Robinson suffered against the Detroit Lions eight weeks later.
If it’s a gamble to rely on the health of Shepard and Robinson in 2023, signing 30-something Beasley may not offset the risk. Nor would it answer the Giants need for a bigger, field-stretcher on the outside.
It’s not a description that fits Campbell either.
Colts’ Pass-Catcher a Hidden Gem for Giants
Campbell’s 6’1″, but he doesn’t possess the kind of vertical speed the Giants lack at receiver. The problem will be compounded if James’ fellow free agent Darius Slayton doesn’t return.
Slayton averaged 15.7 yards per catch last season, 5.8 more than Campbell managed. What Campbell can offer is the ability to turn short throws over the middle into long gains, the way he did for this 35-yard touchdown against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 10:
Of his 623 receiving yards last season, Campbell gained 277 after the catch, per Pro Football Reference. He also offered a decent target in the red zone by making a pair of scoring grabs from within the 20-yard line.
Campbell’s still just 25 and his market value is projected by Spotrac.com at a modest $2.5 million. He doesn’t have Beasley’s comfort with the Daboll playbook, but Campbell is the kind of hidden gem who could double his production with a bigger role in the right system.
Given how they protected quarterback Daniel Jones with short, safe throws last season, the Giants offer the right system. Yet, what Jones needs more is a physical big-play threat who can win vertically.