The last day of the franchise tag deadline was jam-packed with decisions on some very valuable players. The New York Giants continue to try and find common ground with pass-rushing defensive lineman Leonard Williams - that ground has yet to be discovered. For the second consecutive year, Williams is franchise tagged which will net him a 20 percent raise above the original franchise tag number.
The official salary-cap number has yet to be determined and that is pertinent to the franchise tag. Williams is still attempting to be paid, under the 2020 franchise tag, as an EDGE prospect instead of a defensive lineman - his grievance has still yet to be resolved. The 2020 EDGE payment was $17.78 million and the defensive tackle payment was $16.12 million. If there is no agreement with the Giants and Williams, an arbiter may have to get involved - Williams has plenty of snaps at both defensive tackle and on the EDGE. Williams is now franchised again so his positional designation has importance to the Giants’ salary cap space moving forward.
The following players were all franchise tagged by their respective teams:
WR Allen Robinson, Bears
WR Chris Godwin, Buccaneers
OT Cam Robinson, Jaguars
OT Taylor Moton, Panthers
OG Brandon Scherff, Football Team
DL/EDGE Leonard Williams
Safety Justin Simmons, Broncos
Safety Marcus Maye, Jets
Allen Robinson being tagged removes one of the Giants' possible targets to upgrade the offense around Daniel Jones, as does Chris Godwin. This leaves the following players as big-time free agents for the Giants to possibly pursue:
WR Kenny Golladay, Lions
WR Corey Davis, Titans
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers
WR Will Fuller, Texans
WR Curtis Samuel, Panthers
IOL Joe Thuney, Patriots
EDGE Carl Lawson, Bengals
EDGE Bud Dupree, Pittsburgh
EDGE Shaquil Barrett, Buccaneers
EDGE Matthew Judon, Ravens
EDGE Yannick Ngakoue, Ravens
EDGE Haasan Reddick, Cardinals
The most notable name is the first on the list - Kenny Golladay. He’ll have no shortage of interest on the open market. A 6-foot-4, 218-pound, target who gets vertical easily. I expect the Giants to make a realistic run at Golladay now that he’s a free agent. I would love Golladay on the Giants, and I really want to entertain Corey Davis -- a 26-year-old receiver with all the potential in the world. Plus, Davis should be had at a discount price relative to what Golladay will garner on the open market.
The other receiving free agents would have to be had at the right price. I’m not big on adding Smith-Schuster in free agency at his purported price point. Sterling Shepard should be our predominant slot receiver now that Golden Tate is cut. Fuller is rarely healthy and is suspended for PEDs through week one; he hasn’t had a healthy season outside of his 2020 year where he was busted for PEDs.
I like Samuel and feel he could be cheaper. Gettleman drafted him in the second round back in Carolina, and he’s developed nicely over his rookie contract. He can align at running back, in the slot, and out wide. He was a bit more of an offensive weapon that showed a lot of intriguing traits in 2020, but the Giants aren’t in the position to break the bank for these players.
As for the EDGE position, the Giants need an upgrade here. Lorenzo Carter is recovering from an achilles tear and Oshane Ximines basically missed the entire 2020 season. There’s just a dearth of proven talent on the roster, but can the Giants sign a big named EDGE? If so, who?
I would certainly entertain Carl Lawson and Bud Dupree if Dupree is fully recovered from his torn ACL. I feel Dupree would fit in well with Patrick Graham’s vision on how he wants an EDGE player to execute his assignments. Lawson didn’t cover much for Cincinnati which makes sense - he was their best pass rusher. However, his athletic profile suggests that he could possibly drop to zone flat areas when asked. The 25-year-old is a real talent who has been somewhat forgotten with the Bengals.
Shaq Barrett is working on a long-term deal with the Buccaneers, according to FanNation. It doesn’t seem like he wants to leave Tampa Bay - can’t really blame him. I think Matt Judon is a good player who could also fit with Patrick Graham’s scheme, but he’ll be 29 by the start of the season and he’s coming off a somewhat down year. Then there’s Arizona EDGE Haasan Reddick and the Giants - that’s a marriage I would like to see.
It’s difficult to know how much money the Giants can allocate towards this free-agent class until some more moves are made. It doesn’t seem like they’ll have a lot of money, but moves regarding Kevin Zeitler and Nate Solder would give the team more flexibility. They could also restructure contracts and “kick the can” down the road, albeit Gettleman alluded to not loving this strategy in his press conference. Either way, New York has to surround Jones with playmakers and the Giants have to add EDGE help to this defense; whether that’s through the draft or free agency remains to be seen.