New York Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams recently said it's not about the money and that he's already made enough money to be comfortable for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, his fellow lineman, Dalvin Tomlinson, said he's loyal in speaking about himself and his upcoming contract situation, which on the surface would bode well for a potential new deal with the Giants, or so one would think.
But let's be real. When a pile of cash is put in front of us for doing something we love, it's tough to say no. That's especially true for any athlete who, like Williams and Tomlinson, are in their respective primes.
Without question, Williams and Tomlinson are the top two pending Giants free agents that the vast majority of the fan base would probably like to see re-signed. And no surprise here, but they're also the only two Giants on Pro Football Focus's list of the 2021 NFL Top 100 Free Agents.
PFF had this to say about Williams, whom they ranked 20th in their top-100 free agent list:
One of the surest bets in the class, Williams has graded between 70.0 and 82.0 in all six years of his career. Run defense is his calling card, as he ranks in the 86th percentile in PFF run-defense grade since entering the league and with his best work coming as a B and C gap defender. Williams is an average pass-rusher, and even with a career-high 13 sacks this season, he’s yet to break a 72.0 pass-rush grade for his career. Still, Williams has been one of the most valuable interior defensive linemen in the league since 2015, and his level of consistency is a plus for potential suitors.
In terms of a contract, if the Giants can't strike a new deal with Williams, they're likely looking at having to use the franchise tag on the defender, which, as PFF notes, would cost the Giants $19,351,200 (120% of his current tag).
Interestingly, PFF believes that the Panthers will come swooping in to sign Williams to a four-year, $80 million deal with $47.5M total guaranteed and $32.5M fully guaranteed at signing. But again, I don't think that's happening as I cannot see the Giants letting their one established pass rusher go anywhere.
Tomlinson was ranked No. 39 on PFF's list, and of the two pending free-agent defensive linemen, PFF argues that he is the one that the Giants can ill-afford to lose, noting:
Though Williams offers more pass rush upside (he broke out in a big way and was tied for third among interior defenders in 2020 with 62 total pressures), he will also likely command a deal much more substantial than that of Tomlinson, a nose tackle. Williams could be looking for $20M or more per year on a long-term contract, whereas Tomlinson will probably land somewhere in the $15M per year range.
Run stoppers are usually a lot easier to find than two-way defensive linemen who can play the run and rush the passer with any consistency.
Sure, Williams will likely cost the Giants a lot more in terms of money, but why would the Giants look to weaken an already shaky pass-rushing unit that lacks play-makers by letting Williams walk out the door?
Might a substitute be available in free agency for Williams if the Giants share PFF's opinion? Perhaps. But a more likely scenario is that the really good and productive pass rushers are going to receive the franchise tag, leaving the pickings as slim as they were last year in free agency.
When you factor in that along with a pass-rushing draft class that lacks pop, the logic behind letting Williams go instead of Tomlinson doesn't add up.
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