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NFL free agency 2021: Leonard Williams is about to get paid

Giants’ defensive lineman No. 3 on ESPN’s list of available free agents

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NFL: San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Leonard Williams is going to make a lot of money this offseason. New York Giants fans knew that already, as 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 fact that Williams is perceived as the top defensive lineman entering the free agent market is becoming clearer. The Athletic ranked Williams as No. 4 on its list of pending free agents, a list released just after the New Year. Now, ESPN has ranked Williams No. 3 on its lists of 2021 free agents [Insider only].

ESPN writes that Williams has “enormous leverage” over the Giants, which is certainly true. It’s hard to imagine Williams, who earned $16.126 million on the franchise tag in 2020, coming out of free agency with a deal that does not make him one of the league’s 10 highest-paid defensive linemen. That means an annual average value of at least $17.5 million per year.

Instead of spending all of our time fretting about Williams, though, let’s look at some of the other intriguing names on ESPN’s top 50. For now, I will focus on edge rushers and wide receivers.

Edge rushers

Yannick Ngakoue (No. 6)
Bud Dupree (No. 7)
Trey Hendrickson (No. 12)
Shaq Barrett (No. 15)
Haason Reddick (No. 24)
Matthew Judon (No. 34)
Leonard Floyd (No. 35)
Romeo Okwara (No. 38)
Carl Lawson (No. 46)

There are a lot of good players on this list. Wouldn’t it be weird to see the Giants pursue Floyd, who they had targeted in the 2016 draft, or Okwara, who they let go a couple of years ago?

Wide receivers

Kenny Golladay (No. 7)
Allen Robinson (No. 10)
Chris Godwin (No. 13)
Corey Davis (No. 18)
Curtis Samuel (No. 27)

I skipped JuJu Smith-Schuster on this list. I’m just not that interested. Now, if the Giants can get Golladay or Robinson I would be all in. It’s also not hard to imagine the Giants making a run at Samuel, a player Dave Gettleman drafted in Carolina.