New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen might be the busiest general manager in the NFL right now. Not only is he having to deal with contract negotiations for both Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, but he also needs to find a way to acquire a No. 1 wide receiver.
Whether it’s Jones under center for Big Blue in 2023 or someone else, it’s imperative that the team has a vastly improved receiving core. None of New York’s receivers last season were able to consistently create separation. This is one of the reasons Jones failed to throw for 200 yards in 10 of his 16 starts last season. Adding a tall deep threat that the recently released Kenny Golladay was supposed to be could be in the cards here.
The New York Giants can acquire a top receiver via the draft and free agency. But there’s a third option, and that’s to trade for a star wide out.
At this time of the year, trade rumors tend to run rampant, and some have more validity than others. But we’ll take a look at three wideouts that could be available for the right price.
Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals
At 6-foot-4 and 219 pounds, the 24-year-old Tee Higgins is the type of receiver you need in today’s NFL. In his three seasons with the Bengals, he’s caught 215 passes for 3,028 yards and 19 touchdowns. One of the strengths of his game is his ability to make contested catches. With Kenny Golladay being released, it adds importance of upgrading at receiver. Higgins would be just that.
Some may doubt his legitimacy as a true No. 1 receiver since he plays alongside two-time Pro Bowler Ja’Marr Chase. But all they have to do is look at Higgins rookie season when he caught 67 passes for 908 yards with six touchdowns, which was prior to Chase’s arrival in Cincinnati, and when quarterback Joe Burrow was limited to nine games after tearing his ACL.
So why are there rumors that the Bengals would consider trading away one of their best players since they were a game away from making the Super Bowl for the second year in a row?
For starters, he is in the final year of his rookie contract, and the speculation is that the Bengals want to use the bulk of their financial resources to pay Burrow and Chase when they’re up for a new deal. Higgins and his agent will be seeking to get paid like a No. 1 receiver, and that price tag might be too steep for Cincinnati.
However, if the New York Giants are going to have any chance to trade for Higgins it’s going to cost them their first-round pick (25th overall). In addition, if they trade for him, soon thereafter they would have to give him a new contract. It’s hard to envision a scenario where the New York Giants are able to have Higgins, as well as Jones and Barkley under contract.
DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals
The 30-year-old DeAndre Hopkins may have lost a step and is not the vertical threat he once was, but he’s still one of the best receivers in the league when he’s on the field. In the nine games he played in last season, he had 64 receptions for 717 yards and three touchdowns.
The issue for Hopkins over the last two seasons is that he’s missed a total of 15 games due to injuries and suspensions. But despite those concerns, it might be worth it for Big Blue to inquire if the Cardinals would be willing to part ways with the 10-year veteran receiver.
Right now the Cardinals franchise seems to be in rebuilding mode. They’ve fired head coach Kliff Kingsbury, and general manager Steve Keim has decided to step away due to health concerns. On top of that, quarterback Kyler Murray may not be ready for the start of the season as he recovers from his torn ACL.
This is why trade rumors have been swirling about Hopkins this season. He still has two years remaining on his contract, and given his age and recent injury history, it won’t take a first-round pick to acquire him.
The New York Giants currently have nine picks in the upcoming draft but could be awarded one or two compensatory picks, which would give them more draft capital to pull off a trade.
Right now they have two third-round picks, it may take just parting ways with one of those picks and perhaps a fifth-round pick to acquire the veteran wideout if he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause.
Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers
Brandon Aiyuk just had the best season of his three-year career as he set career highs in receptions (78), receiving yards (1,015), and touchdowns (8). His speed and shiftiness were on full display this season as he helped the 49ers to a 12-game winning streak before losing to the Eagles in the NFC Championship game.
But despite his breakout season, they’re have been speculation that the 49ers might be willing to part ways with their 2020 first-round draft pick.
For one there are several mouths on the 49ers offense to feed such as Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle, and it will be expensive to keep those three and Aiyuk together long-term.
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However, in order to acquire, the New York Giants would have to trade their first-round pick, and then just as the case would be with Higgins, they would have to give him a new deal shortly.
The 49er wideout will turn 25 in a few weeks, so he could play a pivotal role in New York’s offense for many years to come. But given the fact that the 49ers could give Aiyuk his fifth-year option in the offseason which would keep him under contract throughout the 2024 season, this is the least likely of the three trade scenarios for the Giants.