dave gettleman leonard williams giants
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The Giants wish to sign Leonard Williams to a long-term deal. However, there may be a chance he plays on the franchise tag after all.

On Tuesday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the Giants were expected to place their lone franchise tag on Leonard Williams. It was initially believed Williams was unlikely to play on the franchise tag in 2021 and that the tool was used as a placeholder for an eventual long-term deal, something either side reportedly desires.

However, general manager Dave Gettleman spoke to the media Tuesday afternoon and didn’t exactly close the door on Williams playing on the tag in 2021. He also noted the organization had yet to decide whether it would place the tag on Williams. This refuted the earlier report, but Rapoport has since noted the organization officially tagged its star pass rusher.

At the moment, Williams’ tag price is unknown. It will be 120% of his 2020 salary, and that salary may be $16.1 million or $17.8 million depending on whether Williams wins the franchise tag-related grievance. He received the former salary (the defensive tackle tag) but argued he should receive the latter (the defensive end tag).

The 2021 tag price will thus either be $19.4 million or $21.4 million (120% of $16.1 million or $17.8 million, respectively).

Williams playing on the franchise tag wouldn’t be ideal given the price. The Giants will adjust accordingly if that ends up becoming the case, but it’s the last route the organization should take when it comes to retaining the team’s sack leader from a year ago.

A long-term deal might include an average annual value of approximately $20 million, but the Giants could back-load the deal and make his 2021 cap hit not as expensive in order to assist in the financial processes of retaining Dalvin Tomlinson and signing any sort of free agent. This would be crucial when you take into account the team’s limited cap space — the Giants are currently $5.5 million over the cap, but that’s subject to change if the team takes Williams off the tag and signs him long term.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.