Don’t expect the New York Giants and star defensive lineman Leonard Williams to come to terms on a new deal anytime soon.
One of the Giants‘ top priorities this offseason will be to retain Leonard Williams and ink him to a long-term contract. The star defensive lineman underwent arguably the best season of his career in 2020 and was a significant piece within a productive defensive unit.
But an agreement may not be coming to fruition soon. According to Dan Duggan of The Athletic, the two sides “aren’t close” to a new contract. Williams is set to become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year commences on Wednesday, March 17 at 4:00 p.m. ET.
The Giants could, however, franchise tag Williams and utilize that as a placeholder to eventually sign him to a long-term deal later in the offseason. They have until Tuesday, March 9 to franchise tag him and then would have until mid-July to sign him to a multi-year contract.
Either way, retaining him will be expensive. If the Giants were to tag him for the second consecutive year, his 2021 salary would be 120% of his 2020 salary, which was $16.126 million. Thus, his pay would be around $19.4 million. But in regard to a long-term deal, Williams might be requesting a per-year amount of around $20 million, which would make him one of the highest-paid in the league at his position.
Letting him walk cannot be an option though. Williams was the team’s top pass rusher last season and led the Giants with 11.5 sacks and 30 quarterback hits. Losing out on his talents and contributions on the defensive end would be detrimental to the unit’s overall development. Not to mention, only getting a season and a half out of Williams after giving up multiple draft picks for him in 2019 would make it a horrific trade. The Giants must get more out of what they received, and the only way they can do that is by making sure Williams remains where he currently is.
The Giants will need to create cap space to keep him too — they currently possess a little over $5 million in space.