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4 wide receivers New York Giants should target in NFL free agency

New York Giants
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants exceeded everyone’s expectations this season by going 9-7-1 and upsetting the Minnesota Vikings in the Wildcard Round 31-24.

If New York wants to become a perennial contender, though, it must upgrade the receiver position. It was clear to anyone that watch the team this season, that there was a huge void in not having a true number-one receiver. While Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka did an excellent job maximizing what they had, receivers often couldn’t separate from tight coverage.

With several receivers such as Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Richie James, Isaiah Hodgins, and Marcus Johnson all free agents, general manager Joe Schoen must figure out how to upgrade the position and add depth.

Related: 4 New York Giants RB options if Saquon Barkley departs

Schoen will certainly look to acquire at least one receiver in the draft and could possibly make a trade for a receiver. However, free-agent options could also help solve the Giants’ woes.

Albeit this free agency class is amongst the weakest in recent history, they’re a number of players that would make New York’s passing game more dynamic in 2023. While this crop of free-agent receivers is thinner than usual years, there are a few intriguing options for the Giants.

Mecole Hardman

NFL: AFC Championship-Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Selected by the Kansas City Chiefs with the 56th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Mecole Hardman hauled in 151 receptions for 2,088 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. He immediately made big plays as a rookie, averaging 20.7 yards per catch with six touchdowns. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to eight appearances in 2022.

Related: New York Giants reportedly won’t want to franchise tag Daniel Jones

There are two reasons why Hardman would be an ideal fit for Big Blue. One is his blazing speed as he ran 4.33 at the NFL combine and a 4.22 at the Quicker Pick race. He is also familiar with Kafka, who coached in Kansas City before becoming the Giants’ offensive coordinator.

Not only can Hardman be a deep threat that Daniel Jones desperately needs, but he can also contribute on special teams as he has 62 career punt returns, and 39 career kickoff returns. Entering his age-25 season, a change of scenery and a bigger role could maximize his talent.

Odell Beckham Jr.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Dallas Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Odell Beckham Jr. met with the Giants late last season, but a reunion never came to fruition. Perhaps this was due to him not being fully healed from his second ACL surgery or the Giants brass felt it was too late in the season for him to get acclimated with the offense.

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If both sides are open to a reunion, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t take place. New York has been looking for an explosive receiver ever since they traded Beckham following the 2018 season. Although he may not be who he once was, he showed he can make plays when it matters most in 2021 when he helped the Los Angeles Rams win a Super Bowl.

He supported the Giants on Twitter throughout their playoff run and stated he has unfinished business, which leaves people to speculate that a reunion could imminent.

Related: 2023 NFL Draft order

Jakobi Meyers

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Meyers is perhaps the highest-graded receiver in this free agent class. In his four seasons with the New England Patriots, he caught 235 passes for 2,758 yards and eight touchdowns.

At 6’2 and 200 pounds he has the physical attributes to make contested catches, and his 3.1% drop rate ranks ninth amongst qualified receivers during that span. The only knock on Myers is that he’s not going to run past anybody as indicated by his 4.63 speed.

He did have a career-high six touchdown receptions making some people that the 26-year-old receiver is starting to come into his own. If the Patriots decline to re-sign Myers don’t be surprised if he’s with New York next season.

Isaiah Hodgins

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Schoen needs to retain one of his own receivers by bringing back Isaiah Hodgins, who was their most productive receiver in the last half of the season.

The Giants claimed Hodgins off waivers in November, and he would catch 33-of-42 targets for 351 yards, and four touchdowns. In the Giants’ playoff win against the Vikings he caught eight of his nine targets for 105 yards and a touchdown.

Building a rapport between a quarterback and a receiver is not easy. But Daniel Jones and Hodgins have it and you figure it would only increase if they have an entire offseason to work together.

Hodgins is a restricted free agent which means the Giants will have a chance to match any offer that Hodgins receives from another team. Making likely that he’ll be back with the Giants next season.

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