March is the month when all NFL teams begin finalizing the self-evaluation of their own roster. It will show what positions need immediate upgrades. Often, the solution to their problems could be found in the free-agent market. Before you begin dreaming about the New York Giants adding a top free agent this offseason. All thoughts in this manner are purely fictional until the Giants address the status of their own in-house free agents.
Giants Not Likely to Land Big-Name Free Agent
Key Dates in Free Agency Period
Keep a couple of key dates in mind for this month. First, March 9th is the date when the window opens for all NFL teams to decide whether or not they will use the franchise tag on one of their own free agents. The designation protects the team’s rights to that player for another season. Granted, the salary is derived from the average of the top three salaries at their position.
More importantly, the franchise tag gives both sides more time to negotiate a long-term, more cap-friendly contract. From the team’s perspective, a new deal prevents them from using all of their available salary-cap space on one player.
Another milestone date in the offseason is the start of free agency. March 15th is the beginning of the legal negotiating window between teams and free agents. Any pending agreements cannot become official until March 17th, the first day of the new NFL fiscal year.
Williams Will be Franchise Tag, What’s Next for Tomlinson
So, how does all of this information pertains to the Giants? Well, the G-Men are going to place the franchise tag on Leonard Williams with the hope to secure a long-term deal sometime in the offseason. The designation is a procedural move that guarantees Williams remains a Giant for many seasons to come.
Clearly, he was the Giants best pass rusher in 2020. Williams recorded 11.5 sacks and 30 quarterback hits last season. If a long-term deal is not completed, then the second franchise tag on the talented defensive lineman will cost the G-Men approximately $21.4 million.
Regardless of Williams contract situation, re-signing Dalvin Tomlinson is still a top priority for the Giants this offseason. The problem facing them is they’re tight against the salary cap. The Giants have not indicated their plans for the 20 free agents on their roster. But realistically, only a handful of them are deserving of returning in 2021.
The odds are high that the Giants are looking for ingenious ways to keep Tomlinson in the fold. No question, contract negotiations have probably begun with him. However, that does not guarantee Tomlinson will re-sign with the Giants if he is allowed to go on the open market. And it will be hard to fill that void in the middle of the Giants defense.
It is tough to move on from very productive players without gaining any compensation in return. But that is what faces each NFL franchise in the offseason. Teams must pick and choose from the list of pending free agents on their own roster. Each front office fully understands that the league’s salary cap structure doesn’t afford the luxury of re-signing every player once they hit the open market. The concept is a grand notion, but far from reality.
Giants Could be Selective in Free Agent Candidates
The start of free agency is an exciting time for football fans. The period brings hope that their favorite team can improve the roster by adding the right free agent to the mix. For Giants fans, this free agency period comes with the hope that the franchise’s rebuild is turning the corner. One impactful signing could increase the chances of them improving on the win total from last season.
Obviously, the biggest area of concern on the Giants roster is the wide receiver position. Everyone involved would love to add a legit playmaker to the passing game. And of course, the usual suspects ( Allen Robinson, and Kenny Golladay) from this year’s free-agent class are atop of the wish list. However, the chances of them coming to the Meadowlands is highly doubtful at the moment.
If these two playmakers decide to leave their current franchise, then they’re likely joining a playoff contender. And at this point in the rebuild, the Giants just do not meet the criteria. Plus, they cannot justify spending $15-18 million on a free agent wideout before attempting to re-sign Tomlinson first. No question, Robinson, and Golladay are excellent additions to any roster, but the G-Men do not have the available salary-cap space to pursue them.
Last Word on Giants Landing Big Free Agent
Let’s forget that each player’s current team will use every avenue available to keep them from moving on in free agency. The Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions are going to jump through every hoop needed to re-sign Robinson, and Golladay. And that could include placing the franchise tag on each player for the coming season.
Currently, the Giants have a little over $7.5 million of cap space available, but that number could change through the restructuring of contracts or player cuts that clears salary-cap space. Regardless, this free agency period leaves the G-Men to be quite selective with their player signings.
It is easy to say that the Giants will likely go the draft route to upgrade the wide receiver position, but that is not a guarantee. The Giants offseason will not officially begin until they decide if Tomlinson is a part of their future.
And as they say, stay tuned.
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