The New York Giants have placed the franchise tag on defensive lineman Leonard Williams after trading for him this past October.
The move was expected, and it’s finally been made.
The Giants are using the franchise tag on Leonard Williams, per source (@PLeonardNYDN first). He is also being classified as a defensive tackle. The franchise tag for a DT is $16.126M.
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) March 16, 2020
Since the tag is non-exclusive, Williams is able to negotiate with other teams. The Giants have until July 15 at 4:00 p.m. ET to ink him to a long-term deal, or else he must play on the tag.
#Giants officially tag Leonard Williams with non-exclusive franchise tag. He is free to negotiate with other teams, but if he signs elsewhere, NYG receives two 1st rounders. NYG & Williams need long-term deal by July 15 4 p.m. or he must play on 1-yr tag. Or NYG can rescind it.
— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) March 16, 2020
The Giants originally traded for Williams prior to the deadline this past season. They gave the New York Jets a 2020 third-round pick and a 2021 fifth-round pick for him, despite the fact that his rookie contract was expiring. That fifth-round pick was to turn into a fourth-round selection if the Giants signed him to a long-term deal prior to the new league year (Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. ET).
This franchise tag, even though it’s prior to the new league year, does not turn the fifth-round choice into a fourth-round choice.
Williams played eight games for the Giants last year, racking up just 26 combined tackles with 11 quarterback hits and .5 sacks.
The trade was — and still is — a head-scratching move. If New York let Williams walk in free agency, then it was a waste of a trade — multiple draft picks for a rental player when the Giants are nowhere near a contender.
But if they signed him to a long-term deal, then they would’ve given up a great deal of cap room to a player that doesn’t deserve it.
Tagging Williams could also introduce a problem, being that he may hold out for a long-term contract. It’s still unclear if he would do that, but it’s certainly a possibility.