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Unhappy Kenny Golladay won’t rule out trade request after ‘confusing’ Giants benching

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Safety Kevin Byard and cornerback Roger McCreary of the Tennessee Titans tackle wide receiver Kenny Golladay of the New York Giants at Nissan Stadium on Sept. 11, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Safety Kevin Byard (31) and cornerback Roger McCreary (21) of the Tennessee Titans tackle wide receiver Kenny Golladay (19) of the New York Giants at Nissan Stadium on Sept. 11, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee. (Justin Ford/Getty Images/TNS)

NEW YORK — Giants receiver Kenny Golladay said Wednesday that he strongly disagreed with last Sunday’s benching in a win over the Carolina Panthers.

“I didn’t like the decision whatsoever,” the receiver said at his locker after practice. “Even people on the team really was kinda like, ‘What’s goin’ on?’ ”

Golladay said he didn’t understand why he was relegated to two snaps, either.

“The GM, head coach, all these coaches: They keep saying, ‘You do everything right. You handle yourself the right way,' ” he said. “So it’s a little confusing.”

That is why Golladay would not rule out the possibility of asking for a change of scenery if this continues. He is getting $17.75 million guaranteed from the Giants to watch from the sideline.

“We’re gonna see how it goes,” he said. “I mean, I came here to play. I’m pretty sure they’re also paying me to play. I guess they want to see more, I guess, or get whatever situated on their end. I’ll keep on doing what I gotta do as far as coming in each day.”

He seemed to think he might be a bigger part of this week’s game plan for Monday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys (1-1) at MetLife Stadium.

“I think [my role] is gonna probably be a little different,” he said. “I still really don’t know.”

If his benching is due to lack of production, it didn’t seem Golladay was told that. He made two comments about how the front office and coaching staff allegedly are telling him one thing and doing another. Also, he gave an icy answer about whether this situation will affect his relationship with the coaching staff.

“It is what it is. It’s a business,” he said. “I’m not here to be friends with coaches. They’re just co-workers to me.”

Golladay and GM Joe Schoen fist-bumped and spoke briefly on the field during the individual portion of Wednesday’s practice. Golladay said they’d spoken about the benching.

“A little bit,” he said. “That’s between me and him.”

Head coach Brian Daboll implied on Monday that Schoen has a role in determining the gameday roster.

“Joe and I collaborate on pretty much everything in our building,” Daboll said, when asked about sitting Golladay. “Something we want to create is as competitive of a team as we can. And regardless of where you’re drafted, how you got here, how much money you make, we believe everybody goes out there and competes and we play the guys that earn the right to play that week.”

Daboll said wideout David Sills had earned the playing time that Golladay lost. Sills’ snaps skyrocketed from 27 in the season opener to 67 last Sunday. Golladay’s playing time plummeted from 46 to two.

“I’ll just say David Sills has done a good job,” Daboll said. “He’s done a good job and he’s earned some of his playing time. And each week is a competition.”

Golladay said Daboll told him the benching was coming prior to the Panthers game and Golladay “accepted what he said.”

“It wasn’t an argument back and forth,” Golladay said. “Agree to disagree a little bit.”

Golladay’s lack of production last season was unacceptable, obviously, especially given the four-year, $72 million contract with $40 million guaranteed he’d signed in the spring.

He had only 37 catches for 521 yards and no touchdowns in 14 games last season. And he made just two catches for 22 yards on two targets at Tennessee in Week 1.

But he didn’t miss a single practice this training camp coming off an unspecified offseason medical procedure. And yet he still played less against Carolina than Kadarius Toney (28 snaps), a second-year player with no track record of reliability, who rarely practices and who spent time in Daboll’s doghouse with seven snaps in Week 1.

Golladay said it shouldn’t matter what others are doing compared to him, though.

“I should be playing regardless,” he said. “That’s a fact.”

It also clearly doesn’t add up to him that wide receivers coach Mike Groh said “I thought Kenny did a really good job” in Week 1, only to play him two snaps in Week 2.

Golladay said he felt “everything that was done in the game” against Carolina “I for sure could have done.”

“The whole time, (I) had positive energy (on) the sideline,” Golladay said. “I wasn’t mad. Accepted the role and just tried to stay locked in.” His only two snaps came in the red zone.”

His only two snaps came in the red zone. It’s unclear how this situation will be resolved.

The cap-strapped Giants can’t cut Golladay outright now because that would incur a $25.4 million dead cap hit on their salary cap. That’s higher than the $21.15 million already on their books.

Trading Golladay would be tough, too. The acquiring team in a potential deal would have to take on the rest of his $13 million salary this season, plus a $4.5 million 2023 roster bonus.

Signs are showing that this could be Golladay’s final season in New York, because the penalty for releasing him drops next year. But for now, Schoen and Daboll have to figure out how to manage this proud veteran and incorporate him into the team.

NFL teams need to be meritocracies to function at a high level consistently. So it’s incumbent upon head coaches — if they want to earn the respect of their players and win games — to play the best players and bench or cut the others.

But those decisions need to be transparent, consistent and effective to take hold. Golladay still was wondering why this had happened and alleged others were thinking the same thing.

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