The new league year is right around the corner.
The NFL calendar officially flips to 2021 on March 17, when all 2020 player contracts expire and thus free agency begins. The league has finally set the salary cap at $182.5 million, down from $198.2 million in 2020 as the league deals with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the placement of the franchise tag on Leonard Williams, the Giants now have 15 players set to become free agents next week.
In anticipation of what has already been a wild offseason for player movement, NFL.com ranked the top 101 free agents of 2021. A few players' names have been crossed off the list, as several free agents have already agreed to deals with new teams. However, other big names remain.
While we wait to see what the team does, Giants.com broke down the roster as it currently stands in the "2021 Free Agency Position Preview" series. Here you will find the Giants' current depth, the team's pending free agents, and the top players available from across the league at each position with analysis from NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal.
The other free agency previews can be found here: offensive playmakers at wide receiver and tight end, edge rushers, quarterbacks and running backs, defensive backs and offensive linemen.
Now let's get into the defensive tackles and linebackers.
Current Depth: Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, B.J. Hill, RJ McIntosh, David Moa (reserve/future deal)
Pending Free Agents: Dalvin Tomlinson, Austin Johnson
The Giants already made a significant move on the interior defensive line this week with the placement of the franchise tag on Leonard Williams. Williams led the team with a career-high 11.5 sacks last year, his first full season with the Giants. Dexter Lawrence is entering his third season after racking up four sacks and six tackles for loss last season. The 2019 first-round pick has not missed a game in his two seasons with the team. B.J. Hill was a third-round pick in 2018 and registered a sack and a pass defended in 16 games last year. R.J. McIntosh, a fifth-round pick in 2018, did not appear in a game in 2020, while David Moa was signed to the practice squad in October. Moa was signed to a reserve/future deal after the season.
View the team's current depth on the roster at defensive tackle.
Top defensive tackles available according to NFL.com (comments from NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal):
Dalvin Tomlinson (No. 22), New York Giants: "If you need a consistent big body to anchor the middle of your defensive line, Tomlinson is a fine choice. Guys with his size and strength inevitably get huge dollars."
DaQuan Jones (No. 56), Tennessee Titans: "The Titans' scheme asked Jones to do a lot that doesn't show up in the box score, and he did it all well."
Larry Ogunjobi (No. 61), Cleveland Browns: "A nice third-round pick by the Browns, Ogunjobi's play seemed to decline as his rookie contract wore on."
Ndamukong Suh (No. 62), Tampa Bay Buccaneers: "Teams will eventually see diminishing returns on these one-year deals for Suh, but it hasn't happened yet."
Sheldon Rankins (No. 67), New Orleans Saints: "The upside here -- his boffo 2018 season -- is significant. Will Rankins be better another year removed from Achilles surgery, or is he just settling in as a useful rotation piece?"
Tyson Alualu (No. 80), Pittsburgh Steelers: "It's pretty rare for a former first-round nose tackle to have his best season at 33 years old, but Alualu made himself some money with the Steelers."
Lawrence Guy (No. 88), New England Patriots: "Being named to the Patriots' All-Decade team of the 2010s -- a decade that included five Super Bowl appearances -- should be worth something!"
Kawann Short (No. 91), Carolina Panthers: "One of the better defensive tackles in football over the last decade is worth a flier after two injury-ravaged seasons."
Al-Quadin Muhammad (No. 96), Indianapolis Colts: "Muhammad can play multiple positions well and still has some upside."
View NFL.com's updated rankings of the top 101 free agents of 2021 ahead of the new league year, which begins March 17.
Current Depth: Blake Martinez, Tae Crowder, TJ Brunson, Cale Garrett (reserve/future deal)
Pending Free Agents: Devante Downs
Martinez was one of the Giants' big acquisitions last offseason and was a significant reason why Big Blue sported a top 10 scoring defense in 2020. Martinez registered 151 total tackles (86 solo), three sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, nine tackles for loss, six quarterback hits, one interception and five passes defensed while starting all 16 games. Crowder was the final pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, but ended up being far from irrelevant. In 11 games (six starts), Crowder had 57 tackles (43 solo) with a sack and one fumble recovery, which he returned for the game-winning touchdown against Washington. Brunson was another seventh-round pick in last year's draft and saw limited action in five games last season, while Garrett was signed to the practice squad following the conclusion of the season. Downs will hit free agency after starting eight games for the Giants last year.
Top linebackers available according to NFL.com (comments from NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal):
Jayon Brown (No. 30), Tennessee Titans: "Brown just makes plays. After four seasons with Mike Vrabel, the inside linebacker could stay within the extended Bill Belichick coaching tree and land in New England or Miami."
K.J. Wright (No. 42), Seattle Seahawks: "Wright bounced back from an injured 2018 and down 2019 season to show off his incredible instincts in 2020, but the market for an off-ball linebacker who turns 32 in July still may not be to Wright's liking."
Kyle Van Noy (No. 63), Miami Dolphins: "One of the most surprising cuts of the offseason, Van Noy can handle a variety of roles well. The Patriots would probably love to have him back at the right price."
View the team's current depth on the roster at linebacker.