Dave Gettleman didn't find pass rushing help in the 2020 NFL Draft, and he doesn't intend to spend big money on the few pass rushers still available in free agency.
Instead, he used a little-used NFL rule on Monday in an attempt to get the Giants' best pass rusher from last season back at a reasonable price.
The Giants placed the "May 5 tender" on linebacker Markus Golden -- and if you've never heard of that rule, you're not alone. It's a way for teams to ensure that late-signing free agents will still count for them when compensatory draft picks are handed out. But more importantly for the Giants, it allows them to hold on to Golden's rights in case he can't find a better deal.
The tender calls for Golden to make 110 percent of his 2019 "salary," which in this case is decided as base salary plus all non-performance bonuses. Golden made a total of $4.75 million last season, but that included a $1 million bonus for reaching 10 sacks. That doesn't count towards the tender, though, so his 2020 tender amount would be $4.125 million.
Despite getting the tender, Golden is still an unrestricted free agent and is free to sign anywhere with no restrictions. But now, if he is still unsigned on July 22 or as of the first day of the first NFL training camp -- whichever is later -- he becomes the exclusive property of the Giants and can only re-sign with them.
So basically, the Giants have set Golden's price at $4.125 million for 2020. If he can find a better deal, he's free to take it -- though that might be difficult because with the tender in place he would now count against the comp pick formula for any team that signs him. Had the Giants not used the tender by 4 p.m. Monday, Golden wouldn't have counted towards the comp pick formula, making him a little more attractive for another team to sign.
If he can't find a new team because of all that, the Giants will gladly welcome back their most productive pass rusher at a salary that works out to less than they paid him last year.
Of course, the 27-year-old Golden surely wouldn't be happy about that. He had hoped to strike it rich in free agency, after a 10-sack season while playing on a one-year, "prove-it" contract. He was believed to be seeking $8-10 million per year in free agency, but that market obviously never materialized.
The Giants seemed to move on when they signed former Packers linebacker Kyler Fackrell to a one-year, $4.6 million contract in free agency, hoping he could recapture the form he had in 2018 when he had 10 ½ sacks. But obviously they are harboring hopes that they can bring back Golden, too.
To that end, the use of the "May 5 tender" is definitely shrewd. The last known team to use it was the New England Patriots, when they placed it on running back LeGarrette Blount before he eventually signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017. The Patriots special teams coach at the time, of course, was new Giants head coach Joe Judge.