The New York Giants are set to embark on their most important offseason in recent memory. The decisions made by general manager Dave Gettleman this spring will be critical in determining whether Big Blue can continue confidently on their current path, or if they’ll have to press the reset button once again. With that in mind, let’s examine the potential free agents that could propel this team to playoff contention.
Next up, let’s take a look at Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson.
Lawson is a four-year NFL veteran, taken by Cincinnati in the fourth-round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He has 20 sacks in his career so far, topping out at 8.5 in his rookie season. Last season, he registered 5.5 sacks, but more impressively finished tied for fourth in the NFL with 44 quarterback pressures. At this point, the 6’2, 265-pound Auburn product is still more of a pass-rushing specialist than an every-down player. Lawson played 68% of his team’s defensive snaps last year, which was the first time in his career he’s played more than half. Pro Football Focus gave him a solid 76.3 overall grade in 2020. He has missed 13 games due to injury in his career, but played in all 16 last season.
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Lawson’s skill-set is clearly one the Giants’ defense sorely lacks. A legitimate pass-rush threat off the edge is one of the missing elements from an otherwise solid unit. He would have to make the transition from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebaker in New York’s scheme, but he should be able to do so rather comfortably given his athletic profile. The fact that Lawson is more of a rotational player shouldn’t bother Big Blue too much, as they have other outside linebackers (Oshane Ximines, Lorenzo Carter, Cam Brown) that will need to see snaps as well.
Spotrac estimates Lawson’s market-value at $8.8 million annually. That feels a touch low for a potential high-impact edge rusher like Lawson. Even if he winds up commanding around $10 million, that’s still a reasonable price. The Giants could certainly fit him into their books, and there would still be room enough under the salary cap to sign one or two other mid-level free agents.
Should the Giants be Interested?
Yes. Given their somewhat limited projected cap-space, the Giants could find themselve out of the running for the big-fish free agents. A player like Lawson, who won’t be overly expensive but still offers plenty of upside, is exactly the type New York should be exploring. Even if Lawson provides exactly what he did last year in Cincinnati, he’d be a valuable addition. But there’s a chance he takes a Shaq Barrett-like leap coming from a bad Bengals team.