Just like that, NFL free agency is fast approaching. We already saw JJ Watt agree to terms with the Arizona Cardinals, and many names will begin to drop off the free agent list as the franchise tag period is almost over. So where do the New York Giants stand in all of this?
If you’re a Giants fan, or at least watched them once or twice last season, you know they’re not one piece away from being a complete team. In fact, they’re a lot of pieces away. The Giants are expected to have some decent spending money this off season after making a few cap cuts. The big question, though, is who will they pursue?
But before we can even get into that, the Giants have plenty of free agents of their own to make decisions on. There are players they can easily let walk, but there are definitely some guys that were game-changers last season and need to be back on the team in 2021.
Who are some of these players? Let’s take a look.
Embed from Getty Images
No surprise here, Leonard Williams is the Giants’ top free agent this off season. The Giants gave Williams the franchise tag last off season after failing to agree on a deal, so 2020 was essentially another “prove it” year for Williams.
And boy did he prove himself.
Williams was arguably the best player on the defense alongside defensive back James Bradberry. Williams out of nowhere became a sacking machine, finishing the year with 11.5 sacks.
He had never recorded more than seven in his five previous seasons.
Williams also finished the 2020 season with 57 tackles, 14 of them being for a loss of yardage. Add in 30 quarterback hits, and Williams proved to Giants fans as well as the organization why they traded two draft picks for him the season prior.
Williams just turned 27, and is officially entering his prime years. Instead of giving him the franchise tag again, New York and Williams should come to terms on a solid three or four-year deal in the $16-17 million annually range.
That would allow the Giants to lock up Williams and continue building Patrick Graham’s defense. It would also allow Williams to re-enter free agency again when he’s 30-31.
Embed from Getty Images
Another free agent the Giants need to bring back is Williams’ line-mate Dalvin Tomlinson.
Throughout his four-year career, Tomlinson has been one of the most underrated players on this Giants defense. He’s recorded 207 total tackles, eight sacks and 20 QB hits. While the numbers could obviously be better, his overall presence in the trenches is felt every single game.
Tomlinson has not missed a game since he was drafted.
The most important thing when building a defense is chemistry. Letting Tomlinson walk for another potential signing, based on who’s still available, just doesn’t seem worth it.
He shouldn’t demand too much contract wise, and bringing him back along with Williams keeps the Giants defense from last year intact. The record didn’t show it, but the Giants finished the 2020 season with the NFL’s ninth best defense. If they continue to build on that, they could look even better in 2021.
Embed from Getty Images
Switching over to the offensive side of the ball, Wayne Gallman is a player that just seems destined to re-sign with Big Blue.
Yes, the Giants have superstar running back Saquon Barkley. However, as fans know Barkley’s recovering from ACL surgery, and the Giants shouldn’t rush him back onto the field too quickly.
Bringing back Gallman allows them to maintain that commitment.
Gallman’s been on the team since 2017, and has showed flashes in rare moments. However, his big break came this season following Barkley’s injury. He started in 10 of 15 games in 2020, and was the go-to back in a slower-paced offense down the stretch.
Gallman finished the season with 682 rushing yards and six touchdowns, catching 21 passes for another 114 yards. Those numbers aren’t eye-popping, but if you watched the way he ran and fought for those extra yards each and every carry, Gallman proved himself this year.
He showed fans that he’s a viable backup to Barkley, and that’s the exact reason he should be brought back. Gallman allows Barkley to be eased back into the game plan, and can even have a larger role when he’s fully back.
We see teams use two running back sets all the time. Having Gallman and Barkley in the backfield at the same time would be a nightmare for defenses. The possibilities are endless.
Why sign an older veteran or rely on a mid-to-late round draft pick to backup Barkley when you can bring back Gallman, who’s still only 26?
Daniel Jones needs more, and better, weapons to throw to. They need a solid #2 corner behind Bradberry, and could use a pure pass rusher to attack the quarterback every single play. Not to mention the offensive line still needs work.
Obviously, this is all a lot easier said than done, but before doing anything, the Giants should consider bringing these players back. When the Giants looked good last season, it was the combination of the defense and Gallman slowing down the games into their favor.
The team is a long way from complete. But re-signing Williams, Tomlinson and Gallman would be a great way to start the offseason.
Lifelong sports fan fulfilling a childhood dream. I’ll talk sports all day. Passion and hot takes are my thing… there’s always a story. Yankees. NY Giants. Knicks. Texas Longhorns. Yes… being a Knicks fan is rough, but my time will come (hopefully). Senior at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.