Andrew Thomas
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants on Tuesday exercised Andrew Thomas’ fifth-year option. The move was a no-brainer, as the 2020 first-rounder has become one of the league’s best left tackles and is a clear offensive staple.

But the move was also a formality. The Giants don’t want Thomas becoming a free agent at any point given what he means to this team – the exercising of the option was a stepping stone toward a lucrative contract extension.

How much could that extension be worth? And when should we expect a new deal to come to fruition?

Resetting the market. Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil became the highest-paid tackle in NFL history earlier this offseason, landing a new three-year, $75 million deal with $60 million guaranteed (per Over The Cap). That’s an average annual value of $25 million.

Thomas and his representatives, Roc Nation Sports, will look to make the $25 million average salary a benchmark. Not only is Thomas younger by almost five years, but he’s on the rise as one of the league’s best blindside blockers. Thomas went from an apparent draft bust in 2020 to a second-team All-Pro this past season, having allowed three sacks and committed two penalties in 1,049 total offensive snaps.

Given his success, age, health (he played 98% of the offensive snaps in 2022), and the way the left tackle market works, Thomas should sign a deal that makes him the highest-paid tackle of all time.

The financials. Tunsil’s contract gives him an average salary of $25 million with $60 million guaranteed. So Thomas is likely gunning for a deal that gives him around a $27 million AAV. With potentially $65-67 million in guaranteed money.

A five-year deal could work, but since Thomas is currently locked in for two more seasons, let’s say general manager Joe Schoen goes with the four-year route. So a four-year, $108 million deal with $65-67 million guaranteed.

Thomas would become the highest-paid player at the position and the Giants would have their franchise tackled locked in through 2028.

They could also include the contractual language to potentially get out of the extension after three years, however. Don’t forget: Thomas would be 30 years old by the time this extension would expire. So the Giants could be looking to acquire their next franchise left tackle at that point.

When should they sign him? Sooner than later.

The exercising of the fifth-year option has bought the Giants time, sure. But Schoen can’t let Thomas get any more expensive than he already is.

Tunsil has the highest average salary now, but there are other young talented tackles who could reset the market before Thomas does. This includes the Browns’ Jedrick Wills and the Bucs’ Tristan Wirfs, both of whom were in the same draft class as Thomas.

Those possibilities, combined with the chance Thomas further improves in 2023, could make the Giants tackle much more expensive next year. Which is why Schoen must get this done as soon as possible.

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