Quite a few defensive linemen landed nice contracts on the first day of free agency. Someone who is trying to cash in on the second wave is Robert Ayers, who played well for the New York Giants last season (but isn’t going back there most likely), currently with a decision to make between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Miami Dolphins.
At the moment it’s just visits for the 30-year old defensive end. Ayers is meeting with the Buccaneers first, which means he could end up signing for them before he goes to Miami. The Dolphins have already signed Mario Williams, but they lost Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby, while possibly cutting Cameron Wake if he doesn’t take a paycut, or as teams love to call it, a restructured contract.
The New York Giants spent a lot of money in about 24 hours on improving their defense, which was one of the worst in the NFL last season. They kept Jason Pierre-Paul with $10.5 million for one season and gave Vernon (that Vernon from the Dolphins) $85 million over five seasons, with more than $52 million in guaranteed money, making him the highest paid defensive end in the NFL. With that in mind, despite their cap room, it doesn’t seem likely they’ll offer up the kind of money Ayers is looking for on his next deal.
He was paid $3.75 million over two years on the deal he signed with the Giants in 2014, including a $2.4 million cap hit in 2015. He did OK in 2015, his best season by far since entering the league, finishing with 9 sacks and 41 tackles while playing in 12 games. He missed 8 games total while playing for the Giants, coming there after five seasons with the Denver Broncos. Overall he has 26 career sacks in 96 games (39 of them starts), since being a disappointing first round pick by Denver coming out of Tennessee.
The Buccaneers have $52 million to spend, the Dolphins have $27 million. Both teams have spent quite a lot of money on free agents in the last six seasons. Both of them have no playoff wins or even appearances in that time to show for all their “wise” spending.