Leonard Williams will be signing his franchise tag tender, a move that changes . . . not much at all.
The Giants already were on the hook for the $16.1 million they have allotted for his salary against the cap. They still have until July 15 to hammer out a possible long-term deal with the 25-year-old defensive lineman. And Williams still believes that he should be classified as a defensive end and not a defensive tackle, which would increase his one-year guaranteed salary by about $1.7 million.
About the only thing this does is open the door for Williams to participate in the Giants’ virtual offseason program, which began on Monday and will continue through May 15.
General manager Dave Gettleman traded two picks to the Jets, including a third-rounder that will be the 68th overall selection this weekend, for Williams in October. Gettleman was criticized for the trade because Williams was set to become an unrestricted free agent in March. The Giants had hoped to work out a long-term deal with him before free agency began, but they instead used the franchise tag to retain his rights at a steeper price than a new contract would have cost.
“Really what it came down to was we felt good about our cap space,” Gettleman said last week of the decision to tag Williams. “We felt for what Leonard brings to the table and for our team, it was more prudent to put the franchise tag on him.”
Williams and the Giants still do not agree on the value of the tag based on his position, a dispute that eventually may head to an arbitrator. Having Williams’ signature on paper — as well as having him log in to the virtual meetings with the rest of the team — is an indication that their stances will not become a distraction. It also prevents the Giants from rescinding the tag, something Gettleman did with cornerback Josh Norman when he was general manager of the Panthers and Norman became too difficult for him to deal with.
“I think we’ll be OK,” Gettleman said last week of not expecting the situation with Williams to boil over like that. “You can’t guarantee anything in this life, but we have gotten to know Leonard really well and I feel really comfortable with the decision.”