The Giants have a number of moves to make this offseason. This pertains to the upcoming free agency class, the draft, their own free agents, etc.
But general manager Joe Schoen may also need to decide on the players entering the final years of their current contracts, and whether to extend those players. Defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, and safety Xavier McKinney headline this list.
How should Schoen handle these extension candidates?
DL Dexter Lawrence. The Giants picked up Lawrence’s fifth-year option last offseason, so he’s at least signed through the 2023 season.
But the organization would benefit from extending him now
The 2019 first-rounder has proven to be a defensive staple and great fit in coordinator Wink Martindale’s scheme. He underwent a career year in 2022, immensely improving in the pass-rushing department (career-high 7.5 sacks, 28 quarterback hits, and 36 pressures) and earning Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors.
While he will garner a significant payday, Lawrence is worth the money. He’s the versatile force the Giants need on the interior of the line and was an integral part of a scrappy up-and-coming defense this past year.
Decision: A four-year extension somewhere around $20 million annually (and likely north of it) with the ability to get out of the deal after three years if needed.
LT Andrew Thomas. He’s obviously the left tackle of the future. Thomas is only getting better after a rough 2020 rookie season and earned second-team All-Pro honors in 2022.
But the Giants would be better off, at least financially, milking as much of Thomas’ rookie contract as they can. The former first-rounder has a fifth-year option, which the Giants could pick up this offseason before potentially extending him in 2024.
I understand the desire to lock him in long term. But there will still be a great opportunity to do so next year.
Decision: Exercise the fifth-year option, possibly extend him in 2024.
S Xavier McKinney. McKinney is another candidate for a 2024 extension. Schoen needs to retain guys like quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley (possibly), re-sign the aforementioned Lawrence, and also focus on any remaining free agency moves plus the draft.
Because of this, the Giants may not prioritize McKinney just yet. What they could do, however, is let McKinney play out the final year of his rookie contract and either franchise tag him or use the tag as a placeholder for an eventual contract extension.
Decision: Let McKinney play out the final year of his rookie deal.
DL Leonard Williams. Williams is not entering the fourth or fifth year of a rookie deal and is instead on the back end of his third NFL contract.
Schoen restructured Williams’ contract to ease the damages of Dave Gettleman’s egregious salary cap mistakes this past September. So he’s likely to remain with the team through 2023, what’s slated to be his age-29 season.
While Williams is still a nice piece on the interior, his pass-rushing abilities have declined since his career year in 2020. The veteran averaged 2.6 pressures per game that year before averaging 1.3 and 1.4 per game in 2021 and 2022, respectively. That isn’t great to see, especially given Martindale’s blitz-heavy tendencies.
Schoen shouldn’t extend his contract, and thus the organization’s commitment to him, just yet.
Decision: Let Williams play out the final year of his deal, then decide on the future.
CB Adoree’ Jackson. Jackson is entering the final season of the three-year contract he signed with the Giants back in 2021. The Giants could roll the dice with him in 2023 after restructuring his deal last year, but in no way should commit to him for any season past that.
Jackson was putting together a very strong 2022 season before suffering a knee injury. His seven missed games to end the regular season have diminished his overall value, so New York would be best off taking a similar route with Jackson as it should with Williams.
Decision: Let Jackson play out the final year of his deal, then decide on the future.
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