Stay or Go: Dissecting the Giants' looming free agency decisions on Leonard Williams and 13 others

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Ralph Vacchiano
·4 min read
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Leonard Williams celebrates after sack against Bucs Tom Brady
Leonard Williams celebrates after sack against Bucs Tom Brady

Before the Giants even get to free agency, they have some expensive decisions to make on their own players.

They have 14 players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents on March 17, including two key members of their defensive line.

Here’s a look at all those players, and what the Giants’ plans for them might be, and should be...

DL Leonard WilliamsThe biggest pre-free agency decision the Giants have to make is whether to give this 26-year-old the mega-deal he wants. He earned it with a career year of 11 ½ sacks, while playing on the $16.1 million franchise tag. They could tag him again, but the cost rises to $19.3 million, which doesn’t make fiscal sense. A long-term deal in the next month is in the Giants’ best interest, but it will be costly. Four years and $75 million with $40 million guaranteed might be a bargain on the open market.

DL Dalvin Tomlinson – The Giants named Tomlinson a captain and turned down trade offers for him midseason, so they obviously really like him. But can they afford both him and Williams? It will be tough, but not impossible. If the Giants re-sign Williams, they can tag Tomlinson for about $14 million. A long-term contract would be more in the $10 million per year range most likely. That’s worth it to keep him next to Dexter Lawrence on the Giants’ line long-term.

LB Kyler Fackrell – He only had four sacks in 12 games due to injuries and he’s 29, so the market won’t be strong for him. But he is a favorite of Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. The Giants got him last year for one year and$4.6 million. They could do a very similar deal again, maybe for less.

RT Cam Fleming – Offensive line depth is always good, but with Matt Peart presumably ready to step into a starting job, the Giants can’t overspend for veteran help. Fleming cost them $3.5 million last year. He might have to take a little less to return in a backup role. If not, the Giants can find another capable veteran tackle who is more affordable.

QB Colt McCoy – The 35-year-old wasn’t great in his two starts for Daniel Jones, but he did just enough to keep the Giants in the games, including when they won in Seattle in early December. Jones is no Eli Manning, health-wise, so the Giants shouldn’t give up on a backup they trust, even if it costs a little more than the $2.5 million he got last year.

C Spencer Pulley – He took a pay cut to stay last year, and now the Giants signed veteran center/guard Jonotthan Harrison to a deal that could be worth up to $2 million. So Pulley is likely gone.

RB Wayne Gallman – The 26-year-old filled in admirably for Saquon Barkley last year, but his 682 rushing yards aren’t going to earn him a big contract or more playing time with Barkley returning. If he wants to return for one year, $2 million, sure, bring him back. Otherwise, running backs are replaceable.

RB Dion Lewis – Speaking of replaceable running backs … The 30-year-old had a total of 242 yards for the Giants in a season where Barkley’s absence should’ve meant more opportunities. They can find a better third-down back in the draft.

RB Alfred Morris – The Giants squeezed 238 rushing yards in nine games out of a 32-year-old running back. That’s great. But there’s no reason to try it again for anything more than the NFL minimum.

DL/LB Jabaal Sheard – He was a solid midseason injury replacement who had 1 ½ sacks for the Giants, but he’s also about to be 32. If he’ll take a minimum deal with some incentives, he’d be good for depth.

S/ST Nate Ebner – A strong special teams player, a captain, and a favorite of Joe Judge, it makes sense to bring him back for another year at $2 million. They just need to promise to keep him on special teams and not play him at safety.

DL Austin Johnson – Another good depth player for the Giants’ defensive line. He played for $1.5 million last season. He’d be worth the same again.

LS Casey Kreiter – They signed long-snapper Carson Tinker to a futures deal, so there’s no pressure to re-sign this 31-year-old. But after all the success kicker Graham Gano had in 2020, do they really want to mess with any part of his operation? They can probably get Kreiter back for less than $2 million.

S Adrian Colbert – A journeyman who spent more than half the season on injured reserve and barely played on defense, he’ll need to take a minimum salary to come compete for a job in someone’s camp.