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Mailbag: Roster questions ahead of free agency


Tom in New York: It might be better to use a non-exclusive franchise tag on Leonard Williams, and then have a team like Las Vegas sign him; then, take the two first-round picks and re-sign Dalvin Tomlinson. The key will be to land an edge rusher.

John Schmeelk: Finding consistent contributors at edge rusher is important this off-season, but your plan has a flaw. As well as Williams played last season, it is extremely unlikely another team decides to give up two first-round picks to sign him as a franchised player. Multiple first-round picks are traded for quarterbacks, but rarely other positions. There are exceptions, but the Giants should expect that if they put a franchise tag on Williams he is likely going to be on their roster this season, unless they remove the tag.

Chris in New Jersey: If the Giants are able to keep Leonard Williams, do you think there's a need for another top-tier pass rusher, or will a second-tier player who saves some cap space be enough to produce the desired amount of sacks?

John Schmeelk: Top-tier pass rushers are very difficult to find, whether in free agency or the draft. They either go in the top five picks, get free agent deals at the top of the market, or require multiple high picks to acquire in a trade. Acquiring one will be very difficult to supplement Williams, even if the Giants wanted to acquire one.

Williams was one of the best interior pass pushers in the league last year, but to expect 11.5 sacks every year from him would be optimistic given the fact he had only 7.5 sacks over his previous three seasons. Sacks are extremely volatile year to year and are often dependent on factors outside of the player's control. It is also much easier to double team interior rushers.

Adding an edge rusher who can consistently win his matchup with tackles can open up things up for the entire pass rush, and provide freedom to defensive coordinator Patrick Graham to employ a larger variety of defensive schemes. Even if it is someone in the second- or third-tier of edge rushers, improvement in that area would help the entire defense. Mostly due to injury, the Giants had a revolving door at the position last year.

Pete in Texas: Considering the Giants were 30th in scoring, don't they need more on the offensive line and a speedy receiver?

John Schmeelk: The Giants have a very young group of offensive linemen and the goal would be for internal improvement to spur better play from the group. Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart, Nick Gates, Shane Lemieux and Will Hernandez are young players who may continue improving with more experience. There's always the possibility of adding more to the offensive line in free agency or the draft, if the Giants think an infusion is necessary. However the team decides to go about it, improving the line's NFL-worst 46% pass rush win rate (according to ESPN) will be paramount.

As for a speed receiver, Joe Judge, Dave Gettleman and John Mara were very clear in their postseason press conferences that the team will be looking to add playmakers. With Daniel Jones entering his third season, putting as much help around him - whether in front of him to block or outside to catch his passes - will be a priority.


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