With the business of the NFL starting up on Monday, the first order of business for the Giants is to make a decision on one of their own. By 11:59 a.m., they must either tag defensive tackle Leonard Williams or allow him to hit the open market in free agency.
There is a strong feeling the Giants will opt to place the transition tag on Williams, which will save them some money and essentially serve the same purpose as putting the franchise tag on him. The transition tag will cost $13.1 million on the 2020 salary cap and ensures the Giants have the right of first refusal on any deal Williams gets from another team. The more-restrictive franchise tag would cost $16.1 million and ensures Williams stays put, as any team signing him would have to give the Giants two first-round picks.
The other option for the Giants is to let Williams walk into free agency, a scenario that general manager Dave Gettleman correctly predicted would lead to this reaction from fans: “I’d get killed,” he said.
Tagging Williams buys the Giants time to either work out a long-term deal with him or try to find partner for a sign-and-trade. Or else, Williams could play the season on the tag, which would be detrimental to the Giants’ salary cap.
No matter what the Giants do, this is a polarizing and head-scratching situation Gettleman made for himself. On Oct. 28, he sent a 2020 third-round draft pick and a 2021 conditional pick — it would be a fifth-round selection because the Giants did not agree to a contract with Williams before the start of free agency — to the Jets for a player Gang Green took with the No. 6 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and less than five years later deemed expendable.
Williams played eight games for the Giants and managed to get only one-half sack. He did lead the team in quarterback pressures and is a very solid run-stopper. He is just 25 years old and extremely durable, having played in 79 of a possible 80 games in his career.
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