dalvin tomlinson giants
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Dalvin Tomlinson is a valuable piece on what’s becoming a successful Giants defensive unit. The organization must keep him for the long term.

It’s been a great deal of “Leonard Williams this” and “Leonard Williams that” in regard to the Giants‘ offseason priorities, as it should be. He was one of the team’s top defensive playmakers, and although retaining him will be expensive, you need to pay for talent in this league.

But Williams isn’t the sole Giants defensive lineman whose contract is expiring. There’s additionally a chance Dalvin Tomlinson could be on his way to another team — one that may offer him a significant amount of money. Losing Williams would be losing talent, but losing Tomlinson would be losing arguably one of the more valuable pieces of the entire defensive unit, given his specific role as a productive nose tackle.

If the Giants defense wants to further produce at a high level in 2021, the group will need to bring back its top pending free agents– Tomlinson included.

There are multiple ways the Giants could do this. Big Blue could ink Tomlinson to a long-term deal or use the franchise tag — the former course of action sitting as the more likely (and beneficial) option.

The benefit to re-signing Tomlinson

Like what was previously mentioned, Tomlinson’s role is crucial for the Giants defense as a whole. As portrayed by The Giant Insider Newspaper and Podcast below, Tomlinson constantly took on double-teams in order to pave the way for guys like Williams and linebacker Blake Martinez to produce. Not to mention, Tomlinson’s overall Pro Football Focus grade was a quality 75.1.

Keeping him in East Rutherford for years to come would be great for the defensive unit, and he’s definitely a talented piece the organization could build around for quite some time.

Retaining him for the long term would be the cheaper of the two main options when you look at it from a per-year-salary standpoint. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes Tomlinson could receive $8-10 million per year, while Spotrac has his market value at $11.4 million per year.

The franchise tag value for defensive tackles is projected to be $14.2 million (per OverTheCap).

The Giants, annually, would get a better bang for their buck and also be able to benefit from Tomlinson’s on-field production for a lengthier period of time if they were to re-sign him this offseason.

Tomlinson is set to be an unrestricted free agent when the new league year commences on Wednesday, March 17 at 4:00 p.m. ET.

The detriment to franchise tagging Tomlinson

Well, as we noted before, the annual pay would be over his true value, and the Giants cannot afford to make any financial-related mistakes this offseason. The front office is on the hot seat after a fourth consecutive losing season and the Giants need to make other decisions while carrying a limited amount of cap space (a little over $5 million as of Thursday afternoon).

If they’re going to keep Tomlinson, offering him the per-year amount that’s equal to his on-field value is the route the organization must take. Anything more may harm the team financially.

Why may Tomlinson leave?

Well, because this is a business, and money doesn’t grow on trees (especially after a pandemic-impacted season when the salary cap will be negatively affected). The Giants also have to dish out cap space to retain Williams, possibly offensive tackle Cameron Fleming, one of their backup running backs (Wayne Gallman, Alfred Morris, or Dion Lewis), and edge rusher Kyler Fackrell. Not to mention, new free-agent pickups will need to be signed and so will the team’s draft picks (New York owns six picks at the moment).

General manager Dave Gettleman additionally believes you should save around $8-10 million for in-season emergencies.

If the Giants can’t financially handle retaining both Williams and Tomlinson and they elect to go with the former, another team will pay for the latter’s talents in 2021 and potentially beyond.

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