Kenny Golladay trade spots: Why deal will be tough to pull off, and who's a good fit for Giants WR

It's no secret the New York Giants don't want Kenny Golladay anymore. Reports surfaced before the team's 23-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night that the Giants were shopping their once-prized free agent wideout.

The situation got worse after Golladay dropped an easy catch on a late third-and-13 and finished with another no-catch performance.

It's perhaps the lowest point in Golladay's 18-month tenure in New York. Golladay has zero receptions on three targets in 22 of the Giants’ 67 snaps through three weeks this season. That, coupled with Golladay's touchdown-less 2021 season, is not what the Giants signed up for when they agreed in 2021 to a four-year, $72 million contract with $40 million guaranteed.

Golladay is frustrated with his role, too. Last week, he called his two snaps "a little confusing" and that "I should be playing ... that's a fact." This week, Golladay played in only a third of the Giants' snaps.

While a divorce is inevitable between Golladay and the Giants, a trade is not so simple.

Why a Golladay trade will be tough to pull off

Golladay's contract is almost immovable. He got $17.75 million guaranteed salary in 2020, which includes a $13 million base salary. Golladay has a $13.25 million and $14.25 million base salary in each of the next two seasons; only $4.5 million of his 2023 salary is guaranteed, and none the following year. In all likelihood, as NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Monday, the Giants would likely have to pay a portion of that money to facilitate any trade.

Complicating things further is Golladay's production. Prior to joining the Giants, Golladay averaged 66 receptions on 114 targets for 1,110 yards and eight touchdowns per 17 games during his time with the Detroit Lions from 2017-2020. In New York, he has just 39 receptions on 81 targets for 543 yards and no touchdowns in 17 games. Meanwhile, his average annual salary is tied for 18th at $18 million.

That doesn't give the Giants much leverage in trade discussions.

And even though the Giants have a plethora of injury issues in their receivers room, New York seems content with moving on from Golladay. The Giants have already given more snaps to David Sills and Richie James than Golladay. Sterling Shepard's season-ending ACL injury might give the Giants a bit of pause before they make any decision with Golladay, but it would be shocking if that changed the team's mind on his future in New York.

Golladay may be underperforming in New York but that doesn't mean he's not a valuable asset. There are plenty of teams in the league who need veteran pass-catchers, and Golladay's 6-foot-4 frame is certainly enticing for some. Perhaps a change of scenery and scheme could reinvigorate Golladay's career. But, given his contract, a move could be tough to pull off.

With a month to go before the trade deadline, here are likely, maybe and dark horse suitors for Golladay.

A change of scenery could help Kenny Golladay. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
A change of scenery could help Kenny Golladay. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) (USA Today Sports / reuters)

Likely — Cleveland Browns

This would be the easiest move from a financial perceptive. The Browns have the most salary-cap space in the NFL with $35.93 million, so it wouldn’t take much finagling for Cleveland to absorb a portion of Golladay’s contract if the Browns covet Golladay and don't want to give up too much else in exchange.

Beyond that, the Browns are also one of the most receiver-needy teams. Amari Cooper, whom the team also acquired in what was effectively a salary dump by the Cowboys this offseason, leads the Browns with 19 receptions on 27 targets. The next-closest wideout, Donovan Peoples-Jones, has just seven receptions on 15 targets. Jacoby Brissett needs more pass-catchers with the Browns squarely in the hunt for the AFC North and Golladay would give Cleveland another big body on the outside.

Former Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn drafted Golladay out of Northern Illinois in 2017. He is on the Browns’ front office staff. If anyone knows what Golladay is capable of, it’s Quinn.

Maybe — Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders need help. Las Vegas sits at the bottom of the AFC West at 0-3, has an identity crisis and a middle-of-the-road offense.

Davante Adams is great but he can’t singularly change the course of a game. Neither can tight end Darren Waller or running back Josh Jacobs. And with Hunter Renfrow battling a concussion and fumbles, the team needs a bonafide secondary wide receiver option alongside Adams. Mack Hollins is playing well but he can’t be a season-long option for QB Derek Carr and head coach Josh McDaniels.

Golladay could be a solution for the Raiders in an attempt to climb back into the playoff race. They have enough cap space to take on a portion of Golladay's contract, too.

Dark horse — Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This would take a lot of salary cap gymnastics to pull off. The Buccaneers have just $3 million in cap space this season so Tampa Bay would need the Giants to take on a large portion of Golladay’s contract to complete any trade. That’s doable if the Buccaneers sweeten the deal in return.

It’s no secret that Tampa Bay has an offensive weapons problem. Mike Evans is the only healthy and viable receiver on the roster at the moment. There’s no telling when Chris Godwin or Julio Jones will return. Guys like Russell Gage and Scotty Miller are fine in a pinch, but Tom Brady needs another big-bodied pass-catcher who can bolster the offense.

The Buccaneers should be motivated to make any and all deals necessary to keep their championship window open with Brady's retirement looming closer every week.