When the Giants drafted defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence with the No. 17 overall pick out of Clemson in 2019, they envisioned him becoming their version of Aaron Donald -- an All-Pro-caliber game-wrecker.
It may have taken Lawrence four seasons to do so, but his play during the 2022 season earned him a Pro Bowl nod and NFL Second-Team All-Pro honors. The 25-year-old set career-highs in every statistical category with 7.5 sacks, 68 combined tackles, 35 solo tackles, seven tackles for loss, 28 QB hits, three passes defended and two forced fumbles in 16 games. The Giants picked up Lawrence's fifth-year option for the 2023 season, in which he'll make $12.4 million, and his monster season has put him in position for a new contract.
"I would say Dexter’s done enough," Schoen said. "Again, we want all of our guys back. We want them to be here for a long time. Dexter played well, and we’ve got him under the fifth-year option. And that’ll be part of our end-of-season review in terms of how we want to approach that. But yeah, Dexter played really well, great person, great teammate. Happy he’s here."
Schoen was also asked about sitting down with Lawrence to discuss a new deal and added:
"If you presume. Well, we’re going to talk about it here in the future and then again, it goes back to we have certain cap space, and we have certain tools at our disposal. We’ll figure out how we want to utilize them."
The Giants do have a slight dilemma surrounding a contract extension with Lawrence, as the team is scheduled to pay defensive end Leonard Williams $18 million in base salary with a $32 million cap hit in 2023. On Sunday, Williams expressed his interest to stay with the Giants and play next to Lawrence on the defensive line.
"I try to let things like that play out," Williams said. "I'm not like a huge religious person, but at the same time I believe that the plan is the plan, things are going to work out the way they're going to work out. I can just control what I can control. I did my best this year, I fought through injuries and played my hardest and all that type of stuff. I’m sure I’ll end up somewhere, if not here. At the end of the day, I want to play as long as possible.
"I love this team and I want to play for them for sure. I want to play alongside with Dexter as long as possible. But we'll let things work out."
Williams even mentioned that he'd consider taking a pay cut to stay with the Giants and continue playing with Lawrence.
"I'll probably consider it," Williams said. "I definitely love this team and want to be here. And like I said, I want to play with Dex as long as possible. I think playing with someone like that helps me individually, and we help each other and we help the defense when we have two stout guys like that up front.
"It's something I haven't thought about yet, so it's hard to answer right away. It's probably something I'd have to talk to my agent, something I would have to see how they're feeling upstairs and all that type of stuff. But I haven't really thought about it yet, I'm considering all possibilities."
Schoen noted that he liked what Williams said Sunday, but the two sides have not yet discussed a pay cut for the 2023 season.
"We haven’t discussed that yet," Schoen said. "I like his quote yesterday; I just saw that before I came down here that he would be interested in taking a pay cut. You guys did a good job on that, whoever asked him that. He didn’t mention that in the exit interview with us."
"We’ll talk about that. Again, there’s several options. We’ve got to go through the entire roster, we have a lot of UFAs (unrestricted free agents). We have guys that are good players that have contracts on the horizon. That’s all part of the planning that we’ll go through. And again, we just got to talk about how we want to divvy it up and prioritize different areas. And if we need to open up money, we won’t rule that out."