This off-season presents a number of challenges for the New York Giants and teams across the NFL. With the projected salary cap expected to drop a minimum of $15 million, teams will be shedding players to get underneath the cap.
The reality is, the Giants are $3 million over the cap right now, so we should expect them to cut several players, including wide receiver Golden Tate and left tackle Nate Solder.
There’s only so much money they can open up before they are forced to renegotiate contracts to lower the amount of dead money they have to pay out in 2021. There are a few players they could look to extend this off-season, including guard Kevin Zeitler, linebacker Blake Martinez, and corner James Bradberry. By extending them, they can push their cap hits down the road, lowering their price tag for this upcoming season and allowing them a bit more financial flexibility in free agency.
One big question mark this off-season is defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, who has been a staple for the Giants in the trenches since entering the league in 2017. At 26 years old, Tomlinson has never missed a game, showing fantastic consistency and developing into a focal point over center. This past season, he finished with 3.5 sacks, 49 combine tackles, 10 QB hits, and eight tackles for loss. His numbers almost match up perfectly with his 2019 statistics, and the dynamic duo he has formed with Leonard Williams makes him arguably indispensable.
“I’ve been blessed to be here,’’ Tomlinson said. “I love this organization. I always want to be a Giant.’’
How much will the New York Giants have to pay Tomlinson?
The expectation is that Tomlinson will earn in the $10-12 million range per season, which is a lofty price tag the Giants simply can’t afford. They will have to make some tough decisions to fit him into their salary cap, but the defensive front is their most intimidating unit, and breaking them apart could be a significant blow to the entire roster. Considering the defense was top 10 in points allowed per game this past season and the offense ranked 31st in the NFL in points per game scored, hurting their most valuable unit could be catastrophic.
“Our defensive line is the strength of our team,’’ safety Logan Ryan said. “They’re a special group, they have a lot of fun and they’re very violent, physical, big men down there in the box.’’
Tomlinson has only improved over the course of four years, and one year of experience and chemistry with Williams could compound into an even more successful 2021. He has slowly developed his pass rush traits and is considered one of the best run defenders in the NFL. While he did miss seven tackles this past season, he created a career-high 15 pressures and four passes defended.
Replacing Tomlinson at nose tackle would be difficult, but the NFL draft does offer some supplemental pieces. Ultimately, the Giants have let run-stoppers go in the past, using the draft to solve the issue. They’ve had good success with this mentality, but Tomlinson is a bit different since his success is closely tied to Williams’.