American Football

Is WR Jeff Smith’s experience enough to stick with Giants?


Syndication: The Record
Danielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

Things could go either way for Smith

The New York Giants have become accustomed to having a conundrum at wide receiver. This time of year, it’s usually difficult to determine who will be on the Week 1 roster because the options don’t inspire much confidence.

The issue this offseason is different. Even if the team doesn’t have a star No. 1 wideout, there’s enough depth that even quality players will need to be cut. That could leave veterans like Jeff Smith on the chopping block.

Let’s project how much value Smith brings to the Giants, as we’ve now reached the final wide receiver in our profiles of the team’s 90-man roster.

By the numbers

Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 195
Age: 26
Position: Wide receiver
Experience: 4
Contract: One-year, $1.2 million deal | 2023 cap hit: $1.2 million

Career to date

Smith was a quarterback during his freshman year at Boston College before transitioning to wide receiver the following season. He never took on a huge role but emerged as a big-play threat, averaging 19.4 yards per reception as a senior in 2018.

Smith signed with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2019 and spent most of the year on their practice squad.

Starting in 2020, Smith appeared in almost every Jets game. However, he was rarely a starter and never carved out a significant role on offense . He set career highs in 2020 with 17 receptions and 167 receiving yards, the only year he played more than 30% of the team’s offensive snaps.

Smith’s main value was as a special teams player. The Jets used him as a gunner on punt and kick return coverage, and he played 86 special teams snaps last year.

The Giants signed Smith to a veteran minimum contract this offseason.

2023 outlook

Smith is one of the true “roster bubble” players on this year’s Giants squad and has a strong case to be in the initial group of 53 players. His special teams value comes primarily from his speed: he ran a 4.34 second 40-yard dash as a prospect. However, he’s only ever actually recorded one tackle on special teams. He took a backseat on the Jets last year to his fellow gunner and NFLPA All-Pro Justin Hardee. Still, if Smith can be at least serviceable in the passing game, he could secure a place on the team.

He’ll still face somewhat of an uphill battle. Jamison Crowder is an accomplished receiver with ability as a punt returner, though it’s possible he’s lost a step after several injuries. Collin Johnson also has special teams experience and boasts a massive 6-foot-6 height, which does more to separate him from the other Giants receivers than Smith’s speed does.

The number of spots available at wide receiver will also depend on Sterling Shepard and Wan’Dale Robinson’s health. If cut, Smith would be a strong practice squad candidate if he makes it through waivers.

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