Jihad Ward – © USA TODAY Sports
GIANTS RE-SIGN JIHAD WARD AND DARIUS SLAYTON …
The New York Giants have re-signed unrestricted free agents defensive lineman/linebacker Jihad Ward and wide receiver Darius Slayton. Media sources say Ward’s contract is a 1-year deal. Slayton’s contract reportedly is a 2-year, $12 million deal with incentives that could reach another $4.5 million.
The Giants signed Ward as an unrestricted free agent from the Jacksonville Jaguars in March 2022. Ward surprisingly became an important on-field and locker-room veteran presence for the rebuilding ball club. He played in all 17 regular-season games with 11 starts (58 percent of defensive snaps), finishing the year with 43 tackles, seven tackles for losses, three sacks, 13 quarterback hits, four pass defenses, and two forced fumbles. It was the most-productive season in Ward’s seven-year NFL career. The 6’5”, 287-pound Ward was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. He has spent time with the Raiders (2016-2017), Dallas Cowboys (2018), Indianapolis Colts (2018-2019), Baltimore Ravens (2019-2020), and Jaguars (2021). Ward has played in 85 regular-season games with 26 starts. While not flashy pass-rush presence, Ward is a tough, gritty edge-setter against the run. He also also shift inside when called upon.
Slayton began the 2022 season as the team’s 7th wideout, barely making the 53-man roster. Due to the revolving door at the position, by the end of the season, he was entrenched as a starter. Slayton played in 16 regular-season games with 11 starts, catching 46 passes for a team-leading 724 yards (15.7 yards per catch) and two touchdowns. However, he also dropped seven passes, or nearly 10 percent of his opportunities. The Giants drafted Slayton in the 5th round of the 2019 NFL Draft. As a rookie, he played in 14 games with nine starts, catching 48 passes for 740 yards and eight touchdowns. But Slayton has not really progressed since that impressive debut season, only catching seven total touchdown passes from 2020-2022, while also dropping 19 passes during that same timespan. Slayton combines decent size (6’1”, 194lbs) with very good overall athleticism and speed. Slayton can stretch the field and get deep. He can adjust well to the football, but his hands are very suspect, even being prone to double-clutching passes he does catch. Slayton is also not a very physical receiver and can have issues beating press coverage.
For a listing of the team’s free agents, see the New York Giants 2023 Free Agency Scorecard.
BOBBY OKEREKE PRESS CONFERENCE…
Linebacker Bobby Okereke, who the Giants acquired as an unrestricted free agent from the Indianapolis Colts, addressed the media on Thursday. The transcript of this press conference is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available on YouTube.