clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2016 NFL free agency: Mario Williams released, Olivier Vernon gets transition tag

New, comments

Pass rushers, anyone?

Mario Williams
Mario Williams
Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Mario Williams, as has been expected for some time now, has been released by the Buffalo Bills. Earlier Tuesday, the Miami Dolphins placed the transition tag on Olivier Vernon. Thus, the defensive end market has crystallized somewhat for the pass-rush-starved New York Giants.

Williams, 31, is a four-time Pro Bowler who did not like, and did not produce in, the defensive system Rex Ryan brought to Buffalo in 2015. He had just 5.5 sacks after posting three straight double-digit sack seasons, including a career-best 14.5 in 2015. Williams has 96 sacks over the course of a 10-year career.

Brian Galliford of Buffalo Rumblings told us last month that Williams is still an elite player -- when he is invested:

"The book on Williams is the same as when he was a free agent prior to the 2012 season: when he wants to be great, he's great. He just doesn't turn on the juice as often as he could, and as a result, he's often invisible for long stretches. But when he's invested, and buys into a team and a scheme, he can still play at an elite level."

Williams told ESPN's Anderson that whoever signs him will be getting "a player with a fire lit in his belly."

As for Vernon, the transition tag means he would be scheduled to earn $12.7 million in 2016. Players given the transition tag can still negotiate with other teams on the free agent market, but their original team has the right to match any offer given. If they choose not to, the original team gets no compensation.

With nearly $60 million in cap space is the 25-year-old Vernon someone the Giants should chase? Vernon has 29 sacks over four seasons with the Dolphins, including a career-best 11.5 in 2013. Vernon hasn't matched that production the past two years, totaling 14 sacks, 7.5 in 2015. The Giants would likely have to top that $12.7 million annual threshold. Is Vernon worth that kind of money? Can the Giants with so many questions afford NOT to make a run at Vernon?

Your thoughts on these two pass rushers, Giants fans?