July 15, 2024

Giants discussed pursuing Chris Jones, Christian Wilkins in free agency

Before the Giants decided to trade with the Panthers for edge rusher Brian Burns, they considered pursuing a couple of disruptive defensive linemen who would have been available for no compensation to their prior teams.

The first episode of the first season of offseason Hard Knocks includes footage from an early-January meeting in which the Giants ponder pursuing Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones and Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, with the idea of pairing one of them with Dexter Lawrence.

As to Jones, director of pro scouting Chris Rosetti says this, “Future Hall of Fame player. Still game-wrecking talent. Makes football look easy at times. When he’s dialed in, playing within the scheme and he’s unblockable, it’s hard not to imagine the good things that would come with him and Dex together in the middle. They’re the two best defensive tackles in football. You watch the tape and you see Chris Jones getting double-teamed every snap, and the guy on the other just having one block. You just imagine that’s Dex with one guy on him every time. You know, the possibilities, the game-wrecking capability is there. Financially, is it possible where we’re at? You’re looking at like a $35 million cap hit next year.”

As to Wilkins, who is Lawrence’s “best friend,” Rosetti says, “I don’t think he’s a difference-making pass rusher on third down. Which is what we need opposite Dex. But a really good football player who will do well for himself.”

G.M. Joe Schoen then remarked that Dexter had texted recently to ask “what we thought” of Wilkins.

They ultimately traded for Burns, giving him a five-year, $141 million contract ($28.2 million per year) and giving up a second- and fifth-round pick to Carolina. Jones stayed put for five years and $158.75 million ($31.75 million). Wilkins went to the Raiders for four years and $110 million ($27.5 million).

Rosetti was right about the Jones cap charge. It’s $34.85 million in 2025. For 2024, however, it’s only $7.35 million.

Burns has cap charges of $15.5 million this year, $29.75 million in 2025, and $30.75 million in 2026.

Of course, the Giants could have kept the second- and fifth-round picks by signing Jones.

That said, it would have surely cost more to get Jones to leave the Chiefs. And it’s unknown whether he would have wanted to join a team that is a long way from being as good as the Chiefs have become.

Regardless, Jones and to a lesser extent Wilkins were on the Giants’ radar. And we know that because the Giants decided to open up their internal process to cameras and microphones.

After watching the first episode of offseason Hard Knocks twice, I’ve got some more thoughts about whether it makes sense to allow so much offseason candor to make its way into view. I’ll type them up later.