The Giants will try to replace one first-round pick who has become a burgeoning star with another first-rounder whose career never took off as planned.
With Hakeem Nicks sidelined for three weeks or so with compartment syndrome in his lower right leg, the Giants today are signing free agent receiver Michael Clayton to a one-year contract for the rest of the season. ESPN first reported the move.
Clayton was the first-round pick of the Bucs in 2004 and had a superb rookie season with 80 catches for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns, but his career went downhill after that and he was released by the team in September. He played four games in the UFL for the Omaha Nighthawks this fall.
The Giants are able to sign Clayton without paying the $150,000 fee to the UFL because he played in four or fewer games for the league this season. The UFL’s championship game is this week, but the Nighthawks are not playing in it so Clayton was available for a workout with the Giants today.
Unlike last week, when the Giants signed veteran receiver Derek Hagan who had been with the Giants before, Clayton must now be force-fed the Cliffs Notes version of the Giants’ offense. The 28-year-old will need to be on the field Sunday against the Jaguars.
In the last two weeks the Giants have lost three of their top four receivers. Pro Bowler Steve Smith partially tore his pectoral at practice on Nov. 11, Ramses Barden fractured his ankle in the game against the Cowboys on Nov. 14, and on Sunday Nicks suffered his injury. Barden has been put on injured reserve while Smith could be back next week against the Redskins.
The addition now leaves the Giants’ depth chart at receiver with Mario Manningham on top followed by Hagan, Clayton, rookie Duke Calhoun and special teamer Darius Reynaud.