Unless the NFL moves the franchise tag deadline back, the Giants have less than 24 hours to use their tag on Leonard Williams. Multiple issues could stand in the way of that taking place. While the Giants would be taking a risk if they do not tag the standout interior defender, they have less than $10MM in cap space. The Giants want to keep Williams around long-term, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes, but they will have a tough time tagging him at $19.4MM. A counterargument would be that the Giants should tag Williams as a precaution, rather than risk losing him next week, and worry about cap issues between Tuesday and the March 17 start of the new league year. The sides were not believed to be close to a long-term deal last year. If the Giants pass on a tag, they will be entering a crucial stretch ahead of the March 15 legal tampering period. They also have defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson as a UFA-to-be.
However, the other part of this equation could cause the Giants to pay even more for a Williams tag. His grievance to be tagged as a defensive end is unresolved, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Should Williams win that grievance, his 2020 salary will balloon from $16.1MM (last year’s defensive tackle tag rate) to $17.8MM. That would bump his 2021 tag price to $21.4MM. Williams played more snaps as an inside defender in 2019, which would point to “defensive tackle” being the correct label for tag purposes. With the Giants up against the cap, this is not an insignificant difference.
Here is the latest from the Big Apple and western New York:
- The Giants did do a little work on their cap situation Monday. They restructured tight end Levine Toilolo‘s contract, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The blocking tight end was set to earn $2.95MM next season. He will be back at a lower rate, with Schwartz estimating the Giants will save more than $1MM by making this move.
- Recently dismissed from his post as Lions VP of player personnel, Kyle O’Brien will join the Giants’ front office. The Giants are adding O’Brien as a senior personnel executive, the team announced. O’Brien spent the past few years in Detroit under Bob Quinn, but the bulk of his experience came in New England.
- As expected, Marcus Maye received the franchise tag. The Jets cuffed their top free agent Monday night. They now have until July 15 to work out an extension. Last week, Maye’s agent questioned Jets management’s commitment to his client. Citing last year’s Jamal Adams saga, ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini wonders if GM Joe Douglas is not high on paying big money for safeties. The Jets also selected Ashtyn Davis in the 2020 third round. Maye, however, is by far Gang Green’s most proven defensive back and can push for a high-end safety contract.
- Although the Bills have Dawson Knox under contract through 2022, they may be looking to upgrade at tight end. Buffalo is likely to add a veteran soon, via free agency or trade, Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic writes (subscription required). The Chargers could well tag Hunter Henry, and Jonnu Smith looms as a Titans tag candidate ahead of Tuesday’s deadline. Other available tight ends include Kyle Rudolph, Gerald Everett and likely Zach Ertz. The Eagles tight end has drawn trade inquiries and will almost certainly not be back in Philly next season.