With free agency approaching next week, things might be getting dicey between the New York Giants and free agent defensive tackle Leonard Williams.
NFL insider Ian Rapoport tweeted Monday morning that “Sources say the two sides are not close on a contract extension and Williams will have a strong market. The tag is a possibility, but so is letting him hit the market.”
The Giants, of course, made a much-criticized trade with the New York Jets to acquire Williams at last season’s trade deadline. With no real hope of making a playoff run, the Giants gave up a 2020 third-round pick (68th) overall and a 2021 fifth-round pick that becomes a fourth-rounder if Williams re-signs before free agency for a player who appeared in eight meaningless games and can now test the market.
If Rapoport is correct that Williams will have a “strong market” that could be bad news for the Giants. A weak market for Williams, the sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft but a player who has only 17.5 career sacks (0.5 in 2019), might be — or have been — the Giants’ best chance to get the 25-year-old to remain with the team on a reasonable contract. If the market is strong, the Giants could face a decision on whether or not to overpay.
The Giants could use the franchise tag (at a cost of a projected $16 million) or the transition tag (at a cost of around $13 million) to keep Williams from entering the 2020 free agent market.
Asked by yours truly at the Combine if he understood how it would be perceived if the Giants ended up losing both Williams and the draft capital Giants GM Dave Gettleman said “I’ll get killed,” while adding that he had “thick rhino hide.”
Sounds like Gettleman might need it.