I’m going to be honest. When I first sat down Tuesday afternoon to begin writing this latest ‘things I think” column as the New York Giants worked their way through NFL free agency, the tone of what I was about to write was going to be far different than what you are about to read.
I began to consider this piece before the Giants FINALLY got a cap-saving long-term deal done with defensive lineman Leonard Williams. My original headline?
“Is Giants GM Dave Gettleman willing to let his career die on Leonard Williams Hill?”
So, yeah, initially this was not going to be a post that treated the GM kindly. There was, though, a reason why I didn’t rush to write it. I wanted to let the day play out and see where things stood entering Wednesday, the day the signing period officially begins.
And, oh my, how things changed.
I always joke with BBV second-in-command Chris Pflum that all it takes for the Giants to start making moves is for me to leave my post — which means leave the laptop — for any period of time.
At 3 p.m. Tuesday I had to run out to pick up my 5-year-old granddaughter from school. Shortly before that, the Giants had announced the signing of fullback Cullen Gillaspia and Chris had let me know that he and Joe DeLeone were set to record a free agency update podcast at that time.
We both should have known what was about to happen. Honestly, I think we probably both did know.
By the time a got back to my desk at around the 3:40, the Leonard Williams and John Ross deals had been reported. Oh, and the show Chris and Joe were set to do will not air in its original form.
Let’s talk about Williams
The Giants had no choice but to get this deal done. By franchise-tagging Williams initially, they lost any chance they had of keeping Dalvin Tomlinson, a good player who will be missed.
They had pretty much given up their leverage against Williams by using the tag, so once that happened this deal was always going to cost $20 million or more annually.
Williams is now the second-highest paid defensive lineman in the NFL behind Aaron Donald in terms of average annual value, making $21 million per year. That is certainly more money than I would liked to have seen the Giants commit to Williams, who isn’t in Donald’s league as a player.
I still really like this deal for the Giants. The shorter deal is also good for Williams, who can get back out on the market sooner.
Like the James Bradberry and Blake Martinez deals a year ago, this is a three-year contract. The $45 million in guaranteed money will likely be paid in the first two years, meaning that if Williams reverts to his pre-2020 form and becomes a player who doesn’t produce commensurate with his contract the Giants won’t be tied to him for an extended number of years.
The cap hit moving down from $19.351 million to $11 million is another obvious, much-needed, benefit for the Giants.
Overall, I think this worked out fairly well for the Giants. Even if it took a whole lot longer than anyone would have liked.
Let’s talk about John Ross
Reality is, Ross never should have been selected No. 9 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Cincinnati Bengals fell victim to the “he runs fast, that means he will be great” school of thought, snapping him up after he ran a 4.22 40-yard dash at the Combine.
Ross had an injury-plagued, unproductive four-year career in Cincinnati. He caught just 51 passes and played in just 27 games over that time.
Still, I like this move by the Giants. It’s a one-year flier with just $1 million guaranteed, barely more than the minimum salary. Ross, obviously, has the speed to stretch defenses. The upside is he becomes Ted Ginn. The downside? He can’t beat out Dante Pettis. I can live with that.
The Ross signing in no way prevents the Giants from going after Kenny Golladay in free agency or drafting a player like Jaylen Waddle at No. 11 if that’s what they want to do. There’s really little to no down side.
What about Nate Solder?
The restructure of the Solder deal still hasn’t been announced,. This one is easy, though. If Solder and the Giants can’t agree to terms by some time on Wednesday, just cut him, save $6.5 million on the cap, take the $10 million hit, and move on.