The New York Giants are expected to franchise tag defensive lineman Leonard Williams, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The belief is that the tag should be viewed as a placeholder in order to secure Williams’ services over the long-haul.
According to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, the Giants and Williams are currently working on a long-term deal as the franchise deadline approaches (Tuesday, 4 p.m. ET), although the deadline could reportedly be pushed back a couple of days until the official salary cap number is announced. All we currently know about the 2021 cap is that it has a floor of $180 million.
With that said, unlike first-year tenders, Williams’ franchise tender isn’t reliant on the cap number, as he was tagged a season ago. Should he officially receive the tag, he would be the third player this offseason to be tagged for a second consecutive year, joining Denver Broncos star safety Justin Simmons and Washington Football Team guard Brandon Scherff.
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Williams Set to Make $19M-Plus on Franchise Tag
How quickly a year can change things. Today’s news is eerily similar to that of 12 months ago when it was first announced that the Giants would be tagging Williams for the 2020 season. At the time, the decision was met with scathing reviews. The former No. 6 overall pick was widely perceived as a swing and a miss acquisition by Dave Gettleman at the 2019 trade deadline. Coming off a mere 0.5 sack season, retaining Williams –– at $16.126 million –– was written off as the GM simply doubling down on his initial mistake.
How wrong that presumption was.
Williams quickly silenced his doubters with a marvelous 2020 campaign. The Giants star finished the season with a career-high 11.5 sacks (seventh in NFL), 30 quarterback hits (third in NFL) and 41 quarterback pressures (seventh among interior defensive linemen, per NextGen Stats).
Now, Williams is set to see a 120% increase on his 2020 salary, pushing his 2021 price tag to a whopping $19.351 million under the franchise tag –– and the response couldn’t be more positive. Don’t take my word for it, take Williams’ teammates’.
Giants Players React to Williams News
Safe to say the news that Williams will once again be donning a Giants uniform sits pretty well with his fellow teammates. Linebacker Blake Martinez, defensive back Logan Ryan and wide receiver Darius Slayton all took to Twitter to show their support, each attaching an epic GIF to better get their point across.
While the news of Williams being tagged is positive, there are still a few hoops to jump through, namely the money aspect. As Jordan Rannan highlighted, the financially stricken Giants “can’t have a direct $19.35 million hit on their salary cap this year. This means one of either two things need to occur –– or preferably both; New York has to come to an agreement on a long-term deal with Williams and/or a handful of more veteran cap casualties must be put into effect.”
The biggest problem in terms of Williams’ contract is that his franchise number is not far off from what he would make per year on a long-term deal. In fact, Pro Football Focus believes Williams would net even more on the open market, previously predicting he’d sign a contract earning $20 million per year on average.
Simply put, the release of Golden Tate and the pending release/trade of Kevin Zeitler are likely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reshuffling the Giants roster this offseason.
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