Giants receiver Kadarius Toney is a wild card. And not in a good way.
No thanks to injuries and a lack of commitment (perceived by some, at least), the second-year wideout hasn’t lived up to the expectations of a first-round draft pick. Former general manager Dave Gettleman chose Toney out of Florida with last year’s No. 20 overall selection.
But after an up-and-down rookie year and another injury-hampered preseason that followed an initial no-show at the team’s offseason program, Toney could quiet the haters starting with the regular-season opener this Sunday. However, he could just as easily justify the doubts surrounding him.
Toney’s second NFL season is bound for any possible outcome. So what are the best- and worst-case scenarios for the receiver and his team?
Best-case scenario: In a perfect world, Toney proves to be a legitimate weapon in head coach Brian Daboll’s offense and develops a nice rapport with Daniel Jones, even if Jones’ performance doesn’t warrant the quarterback’s return in 2023.
Toney remaining healthy and consistent would help explain the original decision to draft him back in 2021. It would also allow the Giants to confidently proceed into the 2023 season with a potential No. 1 receiver when other offensive pieces could be departing. Jones, running back Saquon Barkley, as well as wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Sterling Shepard might be entering their Big Blue farewell tours this year.
Even after possibly losing all of those guys, the Giants could have offensive staples in both Toney and 2022 second-round receiver Wan’Dale Robinson. But the former must prove his worth during his sophomore campaign.
Worst-case scenario: The injuries continue, there remains a true lack of availability, and Toney is responsible for negative headlines like last year’s ejection against the Cowboys and the “media sum clowns” remark.
All in all, true inconsistency would prevent the Giants from making a legitimate evaluation of Toney. The mystery would then continue and he would possibly become another bust of a Gettleman draft pick.
At that point, general manager Joe Schoen would be better off listening to trade offers heading into 2023. Because if you’re trying to get rid of the Gettleman stench and rebuild with the products of your own regime, why not recoup a mid-round pick for a guy you didn’t draft but whose talent is unquestioned?
And it’s not like Schoen wouldn’t listen to offers for Toney — the team was rumored to have been shopping him this offseason. Schoen is definitely willing to part ways with anyone Gettleman acquired, regardless of the player’s talent. The rookie GM dumped starting cornerback James Bradberry and safety Logan Ryan this offseason and just released linebacker Blake Martinez last week.
If Toney’s 2022 is a repeat of last year, don’t be surprised if Schoen makes a move. He knows this will be a long rebuild and he must find the right pieces to help build a foundation. If Toney doesn’t have the makings of a roster staple, Schoen will need to cut ties and acquire some sort of return while he can.