After being active in the free agent market last season, the New York Giants will have to make some difficult choices as some key players will hit free agency in 2021. With the team rebuilding and lacking cap space, the Giants’ moves will need to be well thought out to continue making progress in the NFL‘s NFC East.
New York must get moving in the right direction and fast
While the NFC East was a cohort of mediocrity, it won’t stay like that. Dallas will have its quarterback return in 2021. Washington is a quarterback away from competing. The Eagles are going to be starting the QB with the exorbitant contract.
The Giants ended the season 6-10, second in the NFC East, and earned the 11th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Giants finished second, all while missing RB Saquon Barkley for nearly the entire season with a torn ACL. However, just because they were second in the division should not mean it should be viewed positively.
The woeful offense by the numbers
The Giants finished the season averaging 17.5 points a game, 31st in the league. They were 31st in total yards per game, 29th in passing yards, and 19th in rushing yards. In a season where everyone else was setting scoring records, the Giants surpassed 30 points once in 16 games.
If the Giants do not see improvement in 2021, Jason Garrett and Dave Gettleman are likely gone. Some are surprised they are still there anyway. Garrett seemed to be heading to Los Angeles, and Gettleman was on thin ice to return. Since taking over the GM role, the Giants are 15-33 under Gettleman.
The Giants need to get some weapons around Daniel Jones. I would expect to see talks surrounding the large wide receiver names like Allen Robinson and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The Giants have not been afraid to target big names in free agency
The New York Giants have focused on rebuilding through the NFL Draft but made several marquee free agent signings since hiring Joe Judge. They were especially active in 2020, where they drastically improved the defense. The big names during the 2020 period were CB James Bradberry and LB Blake Martinez. Combined, they will bring home $75 million over the next three seasons.
Those aggressive moves paid off for Dave Gettleman and crew. Bradberry is going to the first Pro Bowl of his career, and Martinez was third in the NFL in tackles (151).
However, when you make moves like that, at some point, salary cap issues will arise.
According to Over The Cap, the Giants are an estimated $846,275 under the salary cap. A large portion of this is because the cap will drop to an estimated $176 million, down $22.2 million from the 2020 season.
New York must decide which free agent defensive lineman will be with the Giants in 2021
New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman faces a difficult decision. Does he re-sign Leonard Williams or Dalvin Tomlinson? It doesn’t look like he’ll have room for both under the salary cap in 2021.
Williams already played the 2020 season on a franchise tag and will take an even higher one if the Giants decided to do it again. A defensive end franchise tag will be second-most expensive in 2021 at $17.309 million. The 26-year-old Williams heads to free agency after a year in which he set career bests in sacks (11.5), tackles for loss (14), and quarterback hits (30).
The argument can be made that the Giants DE will be the most sought-after defensive lineman in all the 2021 free agents.
Since being drafted in 2017, Dalvin Tomlinson has improved each season. In 2020, Tomlinson became the first Giants defensive player to start every game (64) in their first four seasons. He is a remarkably consistent run-stopper. Racking up 46, 45, and 45 tackles the past three years and has 7 sacks the past two seasons. He also deflected 4 passes in 2020.
Tomlinson was named a team captain in 2020 and was the Giants’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
Given the sizeable contract Williams will require, it’s more likely that Tomlinson gets a new contract. The Giants have to make sure they don’t lose both during free agency in 2021.
What about the Giants’ running back free agents?
Outside of Saquon Barkley, there are no other RB contracts on the Giants’ roster for 2021. This will be a position the Giants address in free agency.
RB Dion Lewis was somewhat disappointing as a pass catcher and returner. There’s not much sense in bringing him back unless it’s as the fourth running back on the depth chart, assuming they add others in the offseason.
Wayne Gallman likely earned himself a decent paycheck after his success filling the void in the Giants’ rushing attack. He totaled 796 yards from scrimmage and 6 touchdowns, including putting together a five-game streak in which he had at least a rushing touchdown per game between Weeks 7-12.
After seeing success, it is hard to see him wanting to come back to know he will be firmly behind Barkley. At the very least, Gallman would probably want equal time as a runner in a rotation. The Giants saw the value of a reliable backup, and there is no guarantee when Barkley will return. It is worth it for the Giants to offer Gallman a contract in 2021.
New York Giants’ 2021 offensive free agents
WR C.J. Board, 28
T Cameron Fleming, 29
RB Wayne Gallman, 27
RB Dion Lewis, 31
WR Austin Mack, 24
QB Colt McCoy, 35
RB Alfred Morris, 33
WR Da’Mari Scott, 26
WR David Sills, 26
QB Joe Webb, 35
New York Giants’ 2021 defensive and special teams free agents
S Adrian Colbert, 28
S Nate Ebner, 33
LB Kyler Fackrell, 30
CB Madre Harper, 24
DT Austin Johnson, 27
LS Casey Kreiter, 31
CB Ryan Lewis, 27
DE Jabaal Sheard, 32
DT Dalvin Tomlinson, 27
DE Leonard Williams, 27
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