New York Giants slap DL Leonard Williams with Franchise Tag, what does this mean?

New York Giants, Leonard Williams
Oct 18, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants defensive end Leonard Williams (99) celebrates with linebacker Tae Crowder (48) against the Washington Football Team during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

It was no secret that the New York Giants were looking to retain star defensive lineman Leonard Williams, whether or not they would use the franchise tag on him was yet to be seen.

With Tuesday, March 9 being the deadline to utilize the tag, the Giants didn’t waste any time amid rumors that it could be pushed back with the salary cap not yet established.

Williams is arguably their best defender, picking up 11.5 sacks and 62 pressures in 2020. Last season, he played on the franchise tag as well, earning $16.1 million without a long-term deal in place.

However, Ian Rappaport of NFL Network has stated that the Giants will likely franchise tag Williams, which is a good move for the organization as they try to work out a long-term extension.

Essentially, this indicates that other teams won’t be able to pursue him in FA, as he will be contractually bound to the Giants by means of the tag. While it hurts Williams’ leverage, the Giants expect him to pay him a fair amount, given his production and the simple fact that he’s never missed a game to the injury.

With free agency starting on March 17 at 4 PM, the Giants now have an additional week to iron out a deal, but it could carry on into FA months. If I were to imagine, though, they would want to get this deal done as soon as possible.

If Leonard were to play on the franchise tag for the 2021 season, he would earn $19.3 million, a 120% increase. That entire number would count against the salary cap, something the Giants simply can’t afford this off-season.