Wide Receiver Darius Slayton
Q: Just curious what you can tell us about what the free agency process was like, and in particular, I know there was a report out there that (the) Atlanta (Falcons) offered you more. I don't know if you can confirm that, but just bigger picture of what last week was like for you.
A: It was a weird process. It was kind of similar to the draft in some ways. You get a chance to speak to a lot of teams, hear opinions from a lot of teams, field a lot of interest or no interest. So, it's just kind of an interesting little deal, kind of just to get to see the way the league sees you or values you, how your team does and just see how all of those things compare to each other.
Q: Did you have more elsewhere? What made you choose the Giants?
A: We had multiple teams that were interested. This is really a pretty weird free agency year. Teams really weren't just throwing around money kind of like in other years. But we had a few teams that were interested that I probably could've went with, but ultimately the Giants, when they got DJ (quarterback Daniel Jones) back – obviously because the quarterback is a pretty big piece of being a receiver. But just the familiarity here, with Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll) and Kaf (offensive coordinator Mike Kafka) and (general manager) Joe (Schoen) are building here and some of the guys they acquired, I just felt like this would be the best place for me to go. And obviously, I'm comfortable. I enjoy being here. I enjoy the people here. So, it was easy to come back.
Q: Obviously, we all know what happened with you last year in training camp and whatnot. Really no need to rehash it. But I think there's a lot of people who would've held a grudge like, 'You guys made me take a pay cut. I'm going to get my money next time from literally anywhere else.' Why did you not have that bad blood? What does that say about you and the team and kind of where the relationship is now versus where it was in August?
A: I just think in general in life, I try not to bring emotion into things that aren't emotional. And football is not emotional. Either you go out there and you make plays, and the people that make the decisions play the people who make plays, or you don't. So, at the end of the day when it comes to football or anything like that, I tend to point the thumb and not the finger and look at what I can do better – what have I done to put myself in whatever situation? And sometimes in life, you can do everything you're supposed to do, and you end up getting screwed over. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't somewhat contribute to my situation last year. And at the end of the day, I have to take responsibility for that and do better.
Q: (About a previous question on the Atlanta Falcons) That's kind of where I thought you were going to end up. Guys like to go home. How tempting was that, being a Georgia guy, to go there kind of with ultimately those two offers, what you were weighing against each other?
A: Atlanta, like you just said, is where I'm from. It's where my parents live. It's close to where a lot of my family lives. One of my best friends was a free agent; he just got signed by Atlanta. So, I had a lot of – I guess you could say – reason to want to be there or to want to go there. First of all, free agency, it's got to be mutual. I think they had interest in me, which they expressed. But ultimately, I think the best football decision for me was being back here with Daniel and continuing to grow with him in Kafka's offense.
Q: You've been his (Daniel Jones) biggest supporter. What did you think of that deal?
A: I might've been happier for his deal than my own deal, honestly. Just because I've been here for everything that it's taken for him to get here and kind of seen the way that people viewed him before and the way they view him now. Anybody who follows me on Twitter knows Daniel Jones slander is not being tolerated on my timeline. That'll be that way probably until the day I die. So, I'm extremely happy for him. And I'm just glad he was able to get his deal.
Q: You mentioned just before that in a way, you kind of contributed to the start of the season you had last year. What exactly did you mean by that?
A: I made a lot of plays during camp. But first of all, I hurt my hamstring, which held me out of practice for a while and didn't allow me to showcase my football abilities. There's always a lot of ways you can look at things, but to me, I look at it as if I'd stretched more, if I had prepared myself more, if I had just done different things, then I would've never hurt myself. And I would've had a chance to show my full ability and what I'm capable of. That was kind of what I meant by that. I always like to take responsibility for my part in whatever it is that negatively impacts me. And I do my best to correct it.
Q: As far as this whole process goes, it was kind of a crossroads for you. What did you learn about yourself going through this process for the first time with the decisions and weighing them together?
A: I learned that I don't really care for the business side of it. I just let my agent do what he does. Obviously, I was involved because I got to sign and play the deal, but I let him and Joe and whatever GMs he was talking to do the business. And I really just love playing football. I think a lot of people (were thinking), 'Were you just sitting at home?' Like no. I was training. That's what I love to do. I love to get up and run routes and catch the ball. So, that's what I was busy doing. I let my agent do what he does. And ultimately, we came together and made a decision.
Q: Staying with the same franchise, was that important to you to remain a Giant in that regard?
A: Yeah, I think like I said, I've built a relationship with a lot of guys around here – a lot of people in this building. Even today, there's been a lot of hugs and smiling faces. That's definitely something that I knew would be here if I came back here. I definitely aspire to be a great player for this franchise.
Q: How much are you looking forward to playing with Daniel again this year?
A: A lot. Like I said, I was really happy when his deal got done. That was obviously a huge plus for me in coming back here was getting him back. So, I was extremely happy to see him be back.
Q: When did you know that you'd be part of this again – that they wanted you back? You kind of explained your part of the decision, but when did Joe or whomever make your agent or you aware that 'we want Darius back on this team,'?
A: They offered me pretty early. We were in negotiations for a while. There's just so much movement in free agency, and obviously, we got a lot of heavy hitters that were up this year with (running back) Saquon (Barkley) and DJ and (defensive lineman) Dexter (Lawrence) and J Love (safety Julian Love), myself. They obviously had a lot of things to figure out on their end, which is kind of what dragged it out to some degree. But we were in contract negotiations for a while, and ultimately, we came to agree on terms.
Q: What's it like to have obviously been here for some of the lean times? And now it seems like the Giants are an ascending team where people on the outside are happy to join? And you've been a Giant now for a while.
A: It would've been kind of crazy to leave after somewhat building all these bricks and then as soon as we get the thing built, just jump off the top. Would've been kind of crazy. But I definitely wanted to stick around and be at the top and take in the view myself. I think just some of the guys we've been able to sign and go get, it's just a testament to what we've been able to build here and what Kaf and Dabs and those guys have been able to bring to us.
Q: Your friend who signed with the Falcons, who is that?
A: (Defensive back) Micah Abernathy. He was with Green Bay, and then he signed with the Falcons.
Q: Do you remember the moment where you felt that you and Daniel really had a connection? And that relationship, can you describe how it's developed over the years?
A: Shoot, probably rookie minicamp, our first year, coming in. I think we were doing one-on-ones, and obviously, they always ask, 'What do you want to run?' And he was like, 'Shoot, do you want to run a go ball?' And I was like, 'As a matter of fact, I do.' (Laughs) Since then, I was like, 'This is my kind of guy.' You know a lot of quarterbacks are like, 'Let me throw a hitch or a slant,' – something short to get them warmed up. I think from that moment on, at least in my head, I was like, 'I can work with this guy.' And obviously as we played together and I made plays for him and he made plays for me, that trust builds and that connection builds.
Q: Was there ever a point after the pay cut last year where Joe or Dabs were like, 'Hey, we might've cut the wrong guy here,'? You said you hate the business side of it, but was there any point where they said, 'We might've made a mistake with you,'?
A: No, they never said anything like that. Once we got going into the season and I started doing my thing, I appreciated that they went out of their way to say that they were happy to have me. (They told me that) they were happy I was still here. They were happy that I decided to stay last season. I appreciated that because at the end of the day, they don't have to say anything at all. Definitely was good to hear that from them.
Q: What do you think of this room right now with (tight end Darren) Waller coming in? (Wide receiver) Parris Campbell is obviously a speed guy who's got a history of being successful – especially at the college level, but then again last year. What do you think of this receiver room right now?
A: We got a lot of guys that can fly, a lot of guys that can play. I think that's only going to help our team. It's only going to make us better. It's only going to make the competition around here better. So, I'm looking forward to OTAs and camp and getting a chance to compete alongside these guys.
View the best photos of wide receiver Darius Slayton's time with the Giants.