Almost all of the Giants’ significant offseason player signings and acquisitions were absent from Thursday’s voluntary OTA practice.
First-round pick Kadarius Toney, big-money free agent signings Kenny Golladay and Adoree Jackson, and expensive re-signing Leonard Williams were among the 20 players out of 90 who did not attend.
The Giants spent $111.5 million guaranteed on Golladay, Jackson and Williams in March. Toney was their lone first-round pick in April.
The entire starting secondary didn’t show, either, including corner James Bradberry, the team’s top salary cap hit, and safety Logan Ryan, the ranking NFL Players’ Association representative.
OTA attendance is voluntary. Some players might have personal reasons for missing a day here or there. And the NFLPA is encouraging players to skip the entire offseason program in its quest to permanently reduce spring workloads.
But Giants co-owner John Mara is chairman of the NFL’s Management Council, which has pushed back on the union’s efforts to move offseason work fully virtual and independent of the teams.
Plus, the Giants were 6-10 last season. They’re 18-46 in the last four years. And they have a lot of new faces who need to acclimate quickly, especially on offense, to satisfy the organization’s win-now mantra for 2021.
Wide receiver Sterling Shepard said he does not believe a player’s OTA absence can hinder an offense in the fall.
“No, like you said, it’s voluntary,” Shepard said. “I’m confident that everybody is getting the work that they need right now. No, I don’t feel like it does.”
But this was clearly a topic of internal conversation, because when Shepard was asked about Golladay, the wideout said: “If you have any questions that are pertaining to who is here and who is not here, you can take that up with Coach [Joe] Judge.”
Judge did his interview before practice, so there was not an opportunity to ask the head coach about the plethora of high-profile absences on his roster at the ensuing practice.
Coaches can’t publicly criticize players for not attending voluntary workouts without being fined, but it’s a fair bet that Giants brass, including Judge, would prefer better attendance than this.
Toney, in particular, is a curious case. It appears he has not been with the team all week for the start of phase three to the NFL offseason.
Toney is the lone unsigned Giants’ 2021 draft pick following third-round corner Aaron Robinson’s signing on Thursday morning.
It isn’t uncommon for the Giants to sign their first-round pick deep into the summer. But Toney’s absence is noteworthy because his rookie minicamp was a bit of a sideshow, with his barefoot practicing and apparent lower-body injury that limited him in both practices on May 14-15.
Bradberry ($100,000) appears to be the only Giants player willing to forfeit a workout bonus. Most of the Giants’ players don’t have those bonuses in their contracts to begin with.
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Tight end Kyle Rudolph (foot) wasn’t on the field, but The News was told he’s been at the facility rehabbing regularly, including on Thursday. Saquon Barkley (ACL), Oshane Ximines (shoulder) and Robinson also were said to be inside the building getting treatment or doing off-field work.
Amid the NFLPA’s push for less offseason work, the Eagles and the Colts have canceled their mandatory minicamps in mid-June. Numerous other coaching staffs, including the Cardinals and Dolphins, reportedly have negotiated individualized terms to lighten their players’ loads.
The Giants are allowed 10 OTA practices plus a three-day mandatory minicamp. Judge will hold eight OTAs and the minicamp, so two fewer practices than the maximum. But he said no special arrangement was struck with the Giants’ players.
“We haven’t had any discussions like that,” Judge said. “It if at some point some player wants to talk, then I’m always very open with him and will give him a very direct answer.”
Judge said he believes the Giants’ players trust the coaches to put them on the field with their safety in mind first and individual plans tailored to their needs and development.
Here are the remainder of Thursday’s absences not named above: K Graham Gano, WR John Ross, CB Julian Love, SS Jabrill Peppers, CB Isaac Yiadom, CB Quincy Wilson, FS Xavier McKinney, CB Darnay Holmes, CB Sam Beal, OLB Ryan Anderson, OLB Cam Brown, LB Reggie Ragland, DL B.J. Hill, DT Dexter Lawrence, DT Austin Johnson.
Beal’s absence after his 2020 opt-out, given his roster bubble status, is inexplicable.
Outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter moved really well and participated in most of practice, except the final team period. Carter missed the final 11 games of last season after tearing his left Achilles tendon at Dallas in Week 5. It’s a good sign he’s doing this well this early in the summer … Left tackle Andrew Thomas was a full participant. He had left ankle surgery in January. Thomas and Matt Peart practiced as the bookend tackles, while Shane Lemieux and Will Hernandez put in work on either side of Nick Gates. … Running back Devontae Booker is seeing plenty of work with Barkley still sidelined and rehabbing. Shepard, Darius Slayton, C.J. Board, Dante Pettis and Evan Engram all are getting regular reps with QB Daniel Jones, especially with Toney, Golladay and Ross all absent … RB Ryquell Armstead, recently claimed off waivers, did individual work on the side. Armstead missed all of 2020 due to a scary bout with COVID-19. So he is steadily working his way back. … RB Taquan Mizzell hurt something in his lower body and limped off halfway through practice.