In a perfect world, the NY Giants’ would be able to re-sign their defensive stars, Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson, with no problems.
But, with only so much money to go around, the reality is that barring a discount, only one of them will be in blue next year.
While Tomlinson is a beloved captain of the team, the costlier one of the two will be Williams. He proved his worth last season, playing all over the defensive line en route to a tremendous season – a career high 11.5 sacks and 30 QB hits to go along with winning the NFC Defensive Player of the Week Award twice (Week 13 vs. SEA; Week 17 vs. DAL).
Williams has been projected to command a long-term deal of at least $20 million per year, and it’s hard to envision him playing on the franchise tag again this season. After not being able to reach an agreement last season, this year’s negotiations aren’t off to a great start either.
The Giants can’t afford to lose Williams to free agency for nothing more than a compensatory pick. He must either be on the team next season, or the Giants have to get creative via the tag-and-trade.
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The tag-and-trade has become popular over recent years, especially among pass rushers. In just the last 3 years, Yannick Ngakoue, Jadeveon Clowney, Frank Clark and Dee Ford have been franchise tagged and then traded to another team.
Each team received great value for their players. The Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks received first round picks for Clowney and Clark, while the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs received at least second rounders for Ngakoue and Ford.
With so many holes all over the roster, would the Giants be better suited to try to take this approach, rather than re-sign Williams? Or is he simply too valuable to them to not be part of the team next year?
Teams like the Carolina Panthers, Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars could be interesting trade partners for the Giants – the latter having four picks in the first two rounds.
While another high draft pick sounds great, replacing Williams’ 11.5 sacks would be a tall-task. With no other proven pass-rusher on the roster, the team would have to find one in the draft, or be ridiculously optimistic on the futures of Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines.
It was a shocking move when Dave Gettleman traded for Williams at the 2019 trade deadline, and it would be shocking to see him not pay the player who made good on his belief in him. The National Football League is a business though, and Williams is going to take his chance to become one of the highest paid defenders in the league.
Gettleman needs to hit a home run this off-season, and Williams will likely be the first domino to fall. Either way, the decision he makes better be the right one.
His job – and Williams future, depends on it.