But things have not gone according to plan for Golladay since then. He struggled at times during an injury-plagued 2021 season and has caught only two passes for 22 yards in two games thus far this season.
Heading into Monday night's Cowboys-Giants game, it seems as though the two sides could be heading for a split. (UPDATE: Golladay played 22 snaps (32.8%) on Monday night, finishing with zero catches on three targets.) The problem? That contract. It's a tough sell in any potential trade, surely. But if the Giants are really willing to pay a big chunk of it to facilitate a deal, as NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport has reported, then there might be a few teams willing to bet on what amounts to a fascinating reclamation project.
Golladay turns 29 years old in November. A little less than a year ago, he turned in his best game as a Giant with six catches for 116 yards against a good Saints defense. If he's not toast -- and if the G-Men are indeed willing to eat a large portion of his contract -- then a trade might be possible.
Here are some destinations that could make sense for him.
One of the few teams that theoretically could take on Golladay’s full contract, the Browns ... won’t do that. But adding talent to the position could be in order.
Three games into the season, 32 of the Browns’ 61 receptions have come from WR Amari Cooper and TE David Njoku. Rookie WR David Bell might grow into that third slot in time, but he’s been spoon-fed so far (two catches). Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz have not delivered much yet this season.
It could be smart to give Jacoby Brissett another big target with vertical ability. Golladay managed to haul in 15 catches of 16 or more yards last season from the likes of Daniel Jones, Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm.
When Deshaun Watson returns from his 11-game suspension, the Browns will want to offer him as many receiving options as possible. We think it’s more likely they stay the course with their current options, or perhaps go younger and cheaper with any prospective receiver, but Golladay can’t be ruled out.
One more interesting connection: When the Lions drafted Golladay in 2017, Detroit’s GM was Bob Quinn. He’s now a senior personnel executive for the Browns.
The Bears have won two of their first three games, and the NFC North race might be closer than some expected before the season. But Chicago is fortunate to be where it is considering its anemic passing game -- or perhaps we should say its general unwillingness to commit to the passing game.
There are many reasons for this, including the development of Justin Fields, the state of the offensive line and the incomplete receiver room. This is a team that has made clear its intentions of building up the foundation with young, hungry (and cheaper) players as it wends its way back to respectability.
But there aren’t a ton of daunting games on the schedule, and if the Bears think they can be a surprise contender, adding a veteran to the receiving room could make some sense. It also might help in the new regime’s evaluation of Fields -- how can they truly tell how good he can be if he’s working with an incomplete offensive crew?
Perhaps Golladay and some of the Bears’ current receivers have too much overlap, skill-wise. Equanimeous St. Brown and Byron Pringle are cut from similar cloth as longer deep threats. But Chicago has just 11 catches by wide receivers through three games, and Pringle has been held back by injury.
Golladay might have interest in going home, too. He’s a Chicago native who went to Northern Illinois, and if he’s looking for the chance for revenge against his former Lions team, whom he’s never faced, the Bears still have them twice later in the season. When he played for the Lions, Golladay was a notorious Bears killer.
Intra-divisional trades are rare, especially in the heated NFC East.
But desperate times and all that.
If the Giants are highly motivated to move Golladay, they’d likely prefer it be to a team they don’t face twice a season. Even so, if they thought Golladay could help them, the Giants would be playing him. It’s as simple as that.
So maybe Dallas can offer to pay for some of Golladay’s contract, which other teams might not be willing to do. That might feel like an odd approach given how desperate they seemed to move Amari Cooper, but that’s water under the bridge now.
Golladay also has ties to Cowboys WR coach Robert Prince, a demanding assistant. Not every receiver he’s coached has thrived, as he can be tough on young players. But not only did Golladay survive as a rookie with Prince on him every day, but he would go on to have a few brilliant seasons under Prince’s watch.
In 2020, Golladay said Prince was “huge” in terms of aiding his development.
“RP played a huge role in just believing in me from the jump. He wasn’t fillin’ up my head with smoke coming in as a rookie,” Golladay told mlive.com that year. “... It was teaching me how to be a professional. How to come into work every day, you know?”
Dallas might be getting help at the position with Jalen Tolbert and Michael Gallup ramping up their post-injury activities. But Golladay might be a fallback option if there are snags -- and if two rival franchises can consummate a deal.
But could they still use some receiving help? Absolutely, we say.
Parris Campbell has had plenty of chances. Ashton Dulin is a nice story, but he seemed to cede some snaps after Pierce returned to the lineup. Mike Strachan also is fascinating but clearly not yet refined.
Is Golladay the cure-all? That might be a stretch. But giving Matt Ryan a better variety of options feels like a must. The Colts’ season might have been on the verge of going off the rails, but Sunday’s win and the state of the AFC South give them a chance to keep contending.
One or two more playmakers, plus the return of a few injured players, could get them back in the hunt quickly. But the Colts can’t all of a sudden think they’re right after beating the Chiefs. There might be no team more starved for WR talent currently than Indianapolis.
Three wild-card candidates
- What about the Chargers? Keenan Allen has been banged up. Mike Williams has a lengthy injury history. They might feel they have enough pass-catching options with a healthy Allen and Williams, plus Josh Palmer, DeAndre Carter and some good RB and TE targets. But bad news on the injury front could change their thinking.
- Would the Falcons be interested? They have a basketball-type lineup on offense, with Kyle Pitts and Drake London in the frontcourt, Marcus Mariota at point guard and Cordarrelle Patterson as the ... shooting guard? But they still could use another wing with length, which Golladay could provide. It's an option to consider, which would move Olamide Zaccheaus into more of a "sixth man" role. OK, maybe we didn't need the full-court press on the hoops metaphor, but you get the idea.
- Green Bay has sought long, athletic receivers in Golladay's mold for many years now, and the need for one now could be high if they are worried about Sammy Watkins' availability. He's on injured reserve now, out for at least three more games. Young WRs Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson are developing at different rates, and the Packers don't want to squelch that process any. Golladay has 371 yards receiving in only four games against the Packers, so they certainly know what he can do when healthy.