Rueben Randle had a big chance to make an impression on the Giants and the other teams around the league this season. With Victor Cruz sidelined all season, defenses focusing on Odell Beckham Jr. and not many other established targets for Eli Manning to throw to, he should have put up some big numbers.
Instead, he had a rather pedestrian 57 catches for 797 yards and eight touchdowns. That after last year, when he caught 71 passes for 938 yards, both career highs.
On top of the statistical dip, there also were at least a half-dozen glaring plays he was involved in that wound up being turnovers or missed opportunities for the Giants. The Jets game, the Vikings. Washington twice.
Which is why Randle, who will be a free agent this offseason, left the Giants’ locker room on Monday regretting his 2015 production.
“I just tried to make as many plays as possible with the opportunities that I had,” Randle said. “I wish I could have done more. I’m not really satisfied with the year that I did have. I’m just going to try to get better.”
Why didn’t things click for him?
“It was a lot of things; it’s not really one thing,” said Randle, who has spent four seasons with the Giants. “I try to control what I can control and do the best I can.”
Randle said he’d like to return to the Giants, who drafted him in the second round in 2012, and they clearly are in the market for a Beckham wingman. The team is expected to bring Cruz back at a reduced salary in 2016, but there is no way they can count on him to fill that important role after missing a year and a half of games because of knee and calf injuries. Dwayne Harris was a nice surprise as a receiver, and he’ll be back, but it might be asking a lot of him to be a No. 2 receiver.
Randle insisted that he can be a starting receiver in the NFL.
“I know I am,” he said. “No doubt in my mind.”
He said his priority in deciding where he plays in 2016 and beyond is “just make sure I fit in.”
Whether that is with the Giants or elsewhere, he’s not certain.
“I’m starting to see how this process goes,” he said of free agency. “This is my first time going through it, so I don’t really know what to expect. I’m pretty sure I’ll be finding out . . . I just have to be patient with the process and see how it goes.”