Nick Gates went from suffering a career-threatening injury to returning as a Giants starter, and the team has interest in keeping him on another contract.
The Giants have begun negotiations with the veteran interior offensive lineman, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post notes. Gates played out his two-year, $6.83MM extension. Both he and center Jon Feliciano are on the radar to stay. Feliciano, who was with GM Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll in Buffalo, signed a one-year, $3.25MM deal in March 2022.
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A lower leg fracture in September 2021 ended Gates’ season, and then-HC Joe Judge mentioned the injury as being a potential career-ender for the former starting center. Displaying resilience and versatility, Gates worked his way back into a uniform by this past season’s midpoint. And the ex-center starter took over as a starting left guard soon after. Gates, 27, began sharing the gig with Ben Bredeson. The Giants have Bredeson under contract for 2023, via a 2021 trade, and still have 2022 draftees Joshua Ezeudu and Marcus McKethan on rookie deals.
Given the Giants’ guard situation and higher priorities in free agency, it is notable the team wants to work something out with Gates. Pro Football Focus graded Gates as a top-50 guard this year, slotting him a bit behind right guard Mark Glowinski, a former Colts starter who is signed through 2024. Feliciano being in the picture to stay is a bit more surprising, though his longstanding ties to the current regime certainly help. The 31-year-old blocker ranked outside the top 30 among full-time centers, per PFF, which graded Big Blue’s O-line 30th overall.
Considering the big-picture issues with Barkley, Daniel Jones and Julian Love, the Giants should be considered unlikely to sign off on big raises for Gates or Feliciano. Factoring in their spots as starters, however, Gates and Feliciano’s previous rates are a bit low.
A player whose paygrade checks in higher than most at his position also slots as a Giants offseason priority. Leonard Williams, who signed a three-year deal worth $63MM shortly after the Giants franchise-tagged him for a second time in March 2021, is going into a contract year. The Giants want to reduce his cap hit, with Dan Duggan of The Athletic noting (subscription required) Schoen will meet with the veteran D-lineman about doing so this week. Although void years could be tacked onto Williams’ deal to reduce his massive cap figure ($32.3MM — the most for any D-lineman in 2023), Duggan adds the team’s preferred path here is likely an extension.
The Giants extending Williams will be tricky. While it would reduce the former top-10 pick’s 2023 cap hit, the team also has a Dexter Lawrence extension on the agenda. Lawrence talks have begun, and the breakout D-tackle should be expected to top Williams’ $21MM-per-year price. With Jones set for a major raise and Barkley potentially back on either a franchise tag or an extension, the Giants will need to cut costs in some places. Williams also has seen his production dip since a big 2020 contract year, when he totaled 11.5 sacks and 30 QB hits. In 2022, the ex-Jet tallied 2.5 sacks and 12 QB hits. He only played in 12 games, however.