The Giants are indeed working to re-sign Leonard Williams after placing the franchise tag on him earlier this month.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Giants are working on a new deal for the star defensive lineman. Rapoport mentions he doesn’t get the feeling the two sides are close to a contract agreement though.
The #Giants are working to sign DT Leonard Williams to a new contract after giving him the franchise tag, because they want him in their future… and a new deal would give them cap room to sign others. pic.twitter.com/ftIQgoGd92
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 14, 2021
The Giants, thus, are using the franchise tag designation as a placeholder to eventually come to terms with Williams, who they traded for during the 2019 season. This is understandable and reasonable — the organization didn’t want to risk him hitting the free-agent market and signing elsewhere especially after his impressive 2020 campaign (Williams led the Giants with 11.5 sacks and 30 quarterback hits).
A long-term deal needs to come to fruition by July 15 (the deadline for Williams to sign the franchise tag). However, as Rapoport notes, it would be best for a contract to be finalized by this Wednesday — the start of the NFL’s new league year and the free agency period.
Re-signing him would clear some cap room, something the Giants desperately need more of ahead of the market’s opening. As of Sunday, the organization possesses just a little over $3.1 million in space and it still may attempt to re-sign defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson along with additional free agents, potentially such as a new No. 1 wide receiver like Kenny Golladay.
The price tag for Williams? Well, that will be a significant amount, to say the least. The veteran may be receiving around $20 million annually in a new deal. His franchise tag price would be expensive as well, but it’s unclear the exact total. The tag will be 120% of his 2020 salary, which may be either $16.1 million or $17.8 million depending on the fate of the grievance Williams filed last year. The former price is the defensive tackle tag (what he received in 2020) and the latter price is the defensive end tag (what he believes he deserves).
Therefore, the 2021 franchise tag value would either be $19.4 million or $21.4 million, both of which would be notable hits against the cap.
Re-signing Williams is currently general manager Dave Gettleman‘s top priority, and if it’s not, it should be. The Giants will need to retain one of their top defensive players and thus clear cap space if they even wish to think about acquiring a talented offensive player.