What moves did the New York Giants make on the second day of the NFL’s “legal tampering” period this past Tuesday?
The NFL’s “legal tampering” period continued on Tuesday. Teams remained agreeing to contracts with new players before the free agency period officially begins Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. ET.
The Giants were rather quiet on Monday. However, that wasn’t the case at all on day two — the organization fulfilled arguably its No. 1 priority this offseason.
Leonard Williams stays in East Rutherford
It has happened. The Giants have finally agreed with Leonard Williams on a new three-year deal worth $63 million ($45 million guaranteed). It’s a contract that makes him one of the highest-paid interior defensive linemen in the entire league.
The two sides were at a stalemate and the situation was preventing them from making other moves. Williams apparently wanted more on an annual basis than what his franchise tag was to pay him ($19.4 million) — remember, the Giants tagged him earlier this month but were using the tool as a placeholder to eventually get a new deal done.
The #Giants want to get a long-term deal with franchise tagged DL Leonard Williams, but there isn't much progress, per @MikeGarafolo. The tag is worth $19M; Williams is asking for "a lot more" per year than $19M. The whole situation is holding them up from doing other business.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) March 16, 2021
Some would say the Giants overpaid for Williams, and $21 million in average annual salary is a whopping amount, there’s no doubt about it. But the bottom line is this: talent is expensive in this league, and that talent is becoming more and more expensive every single year. The Giants knew they had to break the bank to keep Williams, and thus they did.
Taking Williams off the tag brings his 2021 cap hit down to $11 million from $19.4 million, a huge and crucial difference. This increase in cap space will assist in the Giants addressing other needs during this period.
Williams additionally agreed to drop the franchise tag-related grievance he filed last year, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. In 2020, the Giants placed the defensive tackle tag on him ($16.1 million) but he argued he deserved the defensive end tag ($17.8 million).
Leonard Williams now will be dropping the positional salary grievance with the Giants, per source. Both sides live happily ever after. https://t.co/xYc5njI8Gi
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 16, 2021
It’s definitely a shame the team couldn’t bring back Dalvin Tomlinson as well, but it was known New York favored a Williams re-signing given his level of talent. Tomlinson ended up agreeing to a two-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings.
Giants add John Ross
Speed, speed, and more speed.
Wide receiver John Ross recorded the fastest 40-yard dash in NFL history at the 2017 NFL Combine — 4.22 seconds. For reference, Chiefs wideout Tyreek Hill ran a 4.29 at West Alabama’s Pro Day in 2016 (he didn’t attend the 2016 NFL Combine).
This helped Ross become the No. 9 overall pick in the 2017 draft (courtesy of the Bengals) out of Washington after he was also the 2016 AP All-Pac-12 Player of the Year. He never found his niche with Cincinnati though — he dealt with a number of injuries and even requested a trade last season.
Regardless, it’s now “new beginnings” for Ross, who still carries superb on-field potential given his speed in a league that’s becoming faster each and every year.
If the Giants can figure out how to correctly utilize the 25-year-old, he could become one of Daniel Jones’ top targets and a scary downfield threat.
It’s not like he hasn’t undergone breakout games either. In 2019, Ross opened the season with a seven-catch, 158-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Seahawks. He caught four balls for 112 yards and a score the following week against the 49ers.
Ross could be a return specialist option too, although he’s yet to take on that type of role at the professional level.
And the fact the Giants are acquiring him for $2.5 million? $1 million guaranteed? Taking Ross’ high ceiling into consideration, this may be a steal by Dave Gettleman and the Big Blue front office.
Take a look at ESNY’s Giants Free Agency Tracker by clicking here.