giants dalvin tomlinson
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The Giants need to decide if Dalvin Tomlinson is in the long-term plans this offseason. Newsflash: he absolutely should be.

On a Giants front seven that includes star pass-rusher Leonard Williams and productive run-stopper Dexter Lawrence comes one of the more underrated defensive linemen in the league: Dalvin Tomlinson. While he may not receive the attention that others might, Tomlinson has proven to be a crucial aspect of a Giants defense that immensely improved in 2020.

With 49 combined tackles along with career-highs in quarterback hits (10) and sacks (3.5) this past season, Tomlinson ultimately portrayed his versatility as a down lineman en route to notching an impressive 75.2 Pro Football Focus mark.

But the Giants possess a lingering dilemma regarding Tomlinson and his future in East Rutherford. That’s right — Williams isn’t the only lineman on that side of the ball whose contract is expiring.

Given he’s entering his fifth season in the league and the Giants didn’t exercise the fifth-year option in 2020, the four-year deal Tomlinson signed after the 2017 NFL Draft is coming to a close.

Should the organization bring him back?

Well, absolutely. His production might be overlooked, but it definitely shouldn’t be. Tomlinson has been a significant component of a run defense that was 10th in the NFL this past season with 111.4 rushing yards allowed per game.

The problem, however, is that Tomlinson is about to become expensive — certainly much more expensive than he currently is. Dalvin’s rookie contract is worth a little bit more than $4.5 million. While the same length (four years) could be included in his next deal, that same salary won’t — not even close.

According to Spotrac, Tomlinson’s market value is around $38 million, a possible deal that would encompass a $9.5 million average annual salary (if it were to be for four years) and ranks him at No. 17 among defensive tackles in those regards.

The issue with this is that while he could be affordable, it’s unclear if the Giants would want to spend a significant amount of their available cap space on just one position group.

The front office will already, in all likelihood, look to bring back Williams (the team’s top pass-rusher in 2020), and he’ll be worth an absurd amount. Williams could be requesting an average salary of approximately $20-25 million, which would put him in a pay range that encompasses DeMarcus Lawrence of the Cowboys and Myles Garrett of the Browns.

There are additionally a number of other pending free agents the Giants could look to bring back, each of whom will be cheaper than Tomlinson.

New York may re-sign outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell to another short-term deal, which could prove to be an important move given his familiarity with Patrick Graham’s defense and edge rusher rotation. There’s additionally a chance the Giants feel obligated to bring back offensive tackle Cameron Fleming to have an experienced starter fill the role of a reserve lineman should Nate Solder return and start in 2021.

Nate Ebner and Alfred Morris may also be retained due to the former’s efforts as a special teams ace and the latter’s ability to back Saquon Barkley up with Wayne Gallman potentially departing East Rutherford.

Amid all these potential new contracts, the Giants might experience a difficult task retaining Tomlinson at the price he shall request. And during a pandemic-impacted offseason after a loss in revenue in 2020, this type of duty is expected to become even more strenuous than it normally would be.

But should that stop the organization from attempting to re-sign him?

Nope. Tomlinson wants to stay in blue and it’d be tough to find someone else possessing his type of on-field value. The Giants are finally in a position to grow into a potential playoff team and it’s clear Tomlinson would be a highly beneficial asset to employ on the defensive side of the ball.

Every dollar counts with each of these pending free agents though, which is why coming to terms with Tomlinson on a new deal might be a tough situation. But taking Dalvin’s production into consideration, he should be one of the top two priorities for the organization when it comes to keeping talent on the roster.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.