The New York Giants‘ defensive line consists of a few notable characters. Namely, Leonard Williams, pegged as the team’s “franchise player,” as well as 2019 1st-rounder Dexter Lawrence. However, the honor of best player roaming the trenches of Big Blue’s defense may very well go to the unheralded, yet highly-consistent, Dalvin Tomlinson.
According to Pro Football Focus, since entering the league in 2017, the former 2nd-round pick out of Alabama has graded in the top-20 each season, among qualifying defensive lineman.
To take things a step further, only two defensive tackles since 2006 earned a higher grade than Tomlinson’s 81.0 during their rookie seasons. Those two players? Da’Shawn Hand (85.9) and a guy by the name of Aaron Donald (90.2).
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Will the G-Men Pay Tomlinson?
That type of company will almost certainly garner Tomlinson grand attention next season on the open market, as his rookie deal is set to expire at the conclusion of the 2020 season.
The question now is, would the G-Men be willing to let a player as steady and productive as Tomlinson just walk?
While Tomlinson may see his name alongside the likes of Aaron Donald in some statistics, he isn’t anywhere the disruptive force that the 2x-DPOY is. In return, the compensation for Tomlinson would not be anywhere near Donald’s $87 million guaranteed deal. With that said, a player of Tomlinson’s stature, at just 27-years old come next free agency, will almost certainly garner top-10 money at his position. A Tomlinson deal would likely come in north of $30-plus million guaranteed, based on Spotrac’s breakdown of defensive tackles’ salaries.
New York will likely have the money to retain Tomlinson should they so choose. Potentially moving on from Nate Solder next offseason would only help the matter, as it would free up approximately $14 million in cap space. Although we must also take into consideration that the money saved from cutting Solder would likely be better served to help pay Saquon Barkley, who is permitted to ink a new deal in 2021.
History, Roster Moves, Point Towards a Giants-Tomlinson Split
Dave Gettleman’s affection for “Hog Mollies” has made Tomlinson somewhat expendable, despite his stellar play. Leonard Williams is here to stay, as the GM appears bullish on admitting fault in the move to acquire him at last season’s deadline.
The Williams move pushed the team’s 2018 second-leading sack artist, BJ Hill, to the bench, despite being one of their most consistent contributors. While Dexter Lawrence was one of the league’s most dominant rookies in 2019, and his size and flexibility make him a prime candidate to take over for Tomlinson at the nose tackle position.
Speaking of nose tackles, the position has been one of New York’s revolving doors on their roster. A plethora of above-average to near-dominant players have occupied the position for Big Blue over the past decade or so, each of whom the Giants opted to not retain come contract time.
Barry Cofield, Johnathan Hankins, and Linval Joseph all come to mind. If Tomlinson continues on his current trajectory, he will almost certainly play himself into a big contract, yet out of New York and on to the list of names mentioned above.
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