Why Giants head coach Brian Daboll isn’t playing high-priced WR Kenny Golladay

Brian Daboll and the New York Giants are paying wide receiver Kenny Golladay a lot of money not to play. Will that continue?

Kenny Golladay, the New York Giants‘ $72 million wide receiver, is becoming a fixture on the bench. He played just two snaps during the Giants’ victory over the Carolina Panthers after playing 77 percent of the NFC East team’s season-opening game against the Tennessee Titans and catching two passes for 22 yards.

Why are the Giants not playing Golladay one year after signing him to a massive contract? It’s not really complicated, as league sources explain the reason why Golladay was replaced in the lineup by David Sills. Golladay’s performance and playing time don’t match his outsized contract.

Kenny Golladay situation: ‘This is a bad contract’

The Giants are running a meritocracy, per a league source. There is nothing promised to any player, especially ones that are holdovers from the Dave Gettleman-Joe Judge era.

Under new coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen, they simply are trying to play the players they feel give the team the best chance to win right now. And their actions speak volumes about Golladay. They don’t think he can help them right now. Hence, why he isn’t playing more.

“It’s a bad contract, and they inherited Kenny,” a league source said. “Brian and Joe aren’t going to just play a guy because he makes a lot of money. He’s not their guy. They’re playing their guys. It is what it is.”

A year ago, Golladay joined the team with significant fanfare and excitement. Then, the former Detroit Lions standout caught just 37 passes for 521 yards and zero touchdowns. Now, he’s behind Sills, Richie James, and Kadarius Toney, a disappointing former first-round draft pick.

Is this an attitude issue or strictly performance?

“I haven’t heard anything bad about his attitude,” a source said. “It sounds like it’s a football decision only, nothing personal.”

“It’s a continual competition at receiver,” Daboll said in a press conference. “We are just going to keep rolling guys and play the guys we think are going to give us the best chance, and the other guys have to be ready to go as backups.”

Although this is not an ideal situation, Golladay was professional about being benched.

“Great,” Daboll said when asked how Golladay handled the news that he would be sitting. “I told him during the week that we were going to go with Sills. He acted like a pro. I said, ‘Be ready to go.’ Does that mean it’s going to be next week? No. It takes a lot of mental toughness, too. That’s not an easy thing to hear. I appreciate them being professional.”

Cleaning out his locker?

Much was made about how Golladay cleaned out his locker and left prior to reporters entering the locker room after the Panthers game.

Golladay, who was paid $764,705 in a game check for Sunday’s game, hasn’t had any change in status.

Giants cornerback Julian Love pointed out on social media that several players left the locker room early after the game. Of course, why would Golladay want to talk about his demotion?

“Not talking to the media, that’s the main reason for him not to be in there after the game,” a source said. “Like a lot of the players, they get dressed fast and they get out of there. That’s nothing new. A lot of guys do that even if they play a good game. It’s not really a big priority for them.”

What’s next for Golladay, Giants?

Because Golladay has a $21.2 million salary cap figure, a trade would be extremely difficult to pull off unless the Giants pay a major portion of his salary to unload him. If the Giants cut him, they would have $25 million in dead money. So, this awkward relationship is expected to continue.

A healthy scratch could be in the offing next for Golladay. Could it change?

Perhaps, if Toney doesn’t start contributing more. He had two catches for zero yards against Carolina, while Sills had three catches for 37 yards after spending three years on the practice squad.

Darius Slayton, who recently accepted a pay cut, played one snap against Carolina. Sterling Shepard was the leading receiver with six receptions for 34 yards on 10 targets. The Giants averaged just 5.1 yards per pass attempt by quarterback Daniel Jones.

“We have to do better on pre-snap,” Shepard said. “Guys have to know where to go. Too many times that, myself included, I was going the wrong way. Then you look at the clock and we have to hurry up, so that throws off a little bit of the timing. Especially in our room — it starts with me — we have a lot to work on.”

Is help coming at the receiver position?

Daboll has been FaceTiming with free agent wide receivers, according to a league source.

Since joining the Giants, Golladay has 39 receptions, 543 yards, and no touchdowns in 16 games. He’s being paid $13 million this season. His contract includes $40 million fully guaranteed with a max value of $76 million with incentives, he’s unlikely to reach the way this is going.

It’s a messy situation in the Big Apple.

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