Can Andrew Thomas Surpass Trent Williams’ NFL Legacy?
In 2016, star-struck high school football recruit Andrew Thomas met NFL great Trent Williams. Six years later, Thomas finished second to the seemingly ageless Williams in the NFL’s All-Pro vote. Could this be the season that Thomas surpasses Williams on the field and eventually at the bank? Will the Giants have the best left tackle in the league by the playoffs?
“Obviously, you want accolades, and you want to be the best, but you don’t get there by worrying about that,” Thomas said when asked about shouldering raised expectations off of his breakthrough Second-Team All-Pro selection. “You get there by working every day to get better, and that’s what I’m focused on.”
Clichés aside, leave no room for confusion: Thomas wants to stake a consistent claim as one of the elites at the second-most important position in football. “I’m a competitor,” Thomas said. “I want to be the best for my team. It’s not just about me, but I do want to be one of the better players in the league.”
The Giants exercised Thomas’ contractual fifth-year option earlier this month and now must consider whether to open extension talks while he is under team control for two more seasons — at discount salary-cap charges of $10.2 million in 2023 and $14.1 million in 2023 — or wait. “It’s definitely a blessing,” Thomas said of adding another guaranteed year to his contract. “The good thing is I’ll be here at least five years. We haven’t really gotten into anything [negotiating] yet. If it happens, it happens. Right now, I’m just focusing on the first part of the offseason, and the rest will take care of itself.”
If the Giants believe Thomas, 24, is only going to improve, an early extension gets ahead of a rising market and could be structured to provide instant cap relief so that other short-term measures with dead-cap ramifications are not needed.
Thomas is a perfectionist when it comes to areas of improvement. “Starting with my set in pass protection, just being more consistent with my inside foot, making sure I’m staying on the angle consistently,” he said. “My hands in pass protection as well, especially the inside hand, making sure I keep leverage on power moves.”
Williams became the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history when he signed a six-year, $138 million contract ($55 million guaranteed) with the 49ers in March 2021. Since then, Williams has been a two-time First-Team All-Pro and is considered one of the best left tackles in the league.
The Giants face Williams’ 49ers this season and Thomas hopes for a chance to remind his counterpart that they met years ago at a Nike recruiting camp. And if someone had told a teenage Thomas then that he eventually would be mentioned in the same echelon as Williams? “He would have been stoked, excited,” Thomas admitted. “It’s crazy, for sure.”