Free-agent pass-rusher Mario Williams is heading to Miami on Saturday to visit with the Dolphins. Because he was cut by Buffalo last week, Williams is free to sign with any team at any time. He does not have to wait for the new league year to open Wednesday.
Now, the New York Giants need pass-rushers, and there's no pass-rusher on the market as accomplished as Williams. The Giants are among the teams that have expressed interest in Williams, but the fact that he's in Miami for a visit obviously indicates the Dolphins have a strong chance to sign him. If they don't, he could visit the Giants (and other teams) next week. But even if the Dolphins did sign Williams, that move could impact the Giants' plans to augment their pass rush in free agency.
Remember, last week the Dolphins chose to designate defensive end Olivier Vernon as their transition player, which means they have him for one year and $12.734 million if no one else makes an offer and that they have the right to match any offer he gets elsewhere and keep him. It's expected that Vernon will get offers from other teams, and if the Dolphins have Williams in the fold, that could make them more likely to let Vernon walk. The Giants, if they have interest in Vernon on a long-term deal, could benefit from that possibility.
It's also possible that the Dolphins could end up cutting veteran pass-rusher Cameron Wake to get Williams under their salary cap. They had been trying to restructure Wake's contract in order to help them sign Vernon, but they haven't been able to get that done. If they end up parting ways with Wake, that's another intriguing veteran pass-rusher for the Giants to consider.
So far, the Giants have been negotiating with their own free-agent pass-rushers, Jason Pierre-Paul and Robert Ayers, and are hoping they can re-sign both. But it seems more likely as Wednesday gets closer that those two guys will hit the market and possibly get offers the Giants are willing to match. I expect the Giants to address the pass rush early in the draft, but they need to address it in free agency as well, and what happens in Miami with Williams could affect the way they do that.