The New York Giants already made quarterback Daniel Jones one of the highest-paid NFL players this offseason. As the franchise looks to keep its core intact for the future, another massive deal could be on the horizon.
Dexter Lawrence, the 17th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, broke out this past season. After showing flashes of dominance early in his career, the 6-foot-4 defensive tackle became one of the best NFL players in 2022.
- Dexter Lawrence stats (2022): 28 quarterback hits, 7.5 sacks in 16 games
New York already exercised Lawrence’s fifth-year option, providing him with $12.4 million fully guaranteed this upcoming season. However, the All-Pro defensive lineman is eligible for NFL free agency in 2024 and would cash in at a time when NFL teams are spending more than ever before on defensive tackles.
With Jones already signed to an extension and New York seemingly putting contract talks with Saquon Barkley on hold, Lawrence appears to be the new priority for the Giants’ front office.
NFL insider Jeremy Fowler reported on SportsCenter that the Giants have engaged with Lawrence’s representatives in contract discussions. While no deal is imminent, there is already an early expectation of what the deal will cost New York.
“But that defensive tackle market is huge right now because Daron Payne, another in the NFC East with Washington, they gave him over $22 million per year. So, Lawrence is going to have to be at least somewhere close to that, maybe $20-plus million. And you have Jeffrey Simmons in Tennessee. You got Quinnen Williams in New York. So, defensive tackle’s where the money’s going to be.”Jeremy Fowler on projected cost to New York Giants for a Dexter Lawrence contract extension (H/T Bleacher Report)
- Dexter Lawrence contract: $12.407 million (2023, 2024 free agent
Related: New York Giants mock draft 2023
The market for defensive tackles has shifted considerably this offseason. Prior to 2023, only two defensive tackles (Aaron Donald and DeForest Buckner) were signed to deals worth more than $20 million per season.
With the NFL salary cap rising, the market has swung dramatically in the players’ favor. The San Francisco 49ers signed Javon Hargrave to a multi-year deal worth $21 million per season and the Washington Commanders extended Daron Payne at a $22.5 million AAV price point.
Lawrence is five years younger than Hargrave and received a higher grade from Pro Football Focus (91.6) than Payne (66.2). Based on the current market, he would likely eclipse a $22 million AAV if he hits free agency next offseason.
There is plenty of incentive for New York to work out an extension now. If the two sides agree to a long-term extension, the Giants could ($2.299 million) could create more cap space to improve their roster for the 2023 season. Considering New York is projected to have more than $110 million in cap space next year, it would be a surprise if Lawrence doesn’t land an extension.