New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman painted himself into a corner when he traded for Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams last October, an unwise move that sent two draft picks to Gang Green in exchange for an impeding free agent who had been underachieving.
That puts Gettleman in a pinch as free agency approaches. Should he allow Williams to test the free agent waters and get into a bidding war for him, or should the Giants use the franchise tag on him?
On Tuesday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Gettleman sounded like he was all-in on Williams, saying he would “get killed” if he didn’t retain Williams after surrendering a third-round pick this year and either a fourth- or fifth-rounder in next year’s draft to obtain him.
But retaining Williams at all costs may not be the most prudent course of action as Ralph Vacchiano of SNY points out:
Gettleman declined to say whether he was discussing tagging Williams as a DT or a DE when he was asked by SNY at the NFL scouting combine on Tuesday. And when asked if he was expecting a fight if he tagged Williams as a DT, Gettleman said “I’ll leave that alone.”
The official numbers for the franchise and transition tags haven’t been set by the NFL yet, but according to Overthecap.com, the franchise tag for a defensive tackle is projected to be about $15.5 million in 2020. However, Williams would actually get 120 percent of his current salary of $14.2 million, which works out to about $17 million.
The problem, though, is the projected franchise tag number for defensive ends is $19.3 million, according to Overthecap.com.
Compounding matters, if the Giants were to tag Williams as a defensive tackle, Vacchiano reports that he would immediately file a grievance.
If the Giants do franchise Williams in the next few weeks, they are expected to tag him as a defensive tackle. And if they do, Williams’ camp will likely file a grievance claiming he should be tagged as a defensive end, according to an NFL source. Williams played both positions with the Giants and Jets last season, but being tagged as an end could earn him approximately $2 million more.
There’s no way Williams is worth either of those two tag amounts. He is an average player at best. Yes, he is only 25 and has some experience, is a good locker room guy, etc. but the Giants can find a better use for that money.
The trade for Williams was a mistake, face it. It was a move a contending team makes, not a rebuilding one. Compounding that mistake by doubling down here is even a bigger mistake. The Giants should let Williams hit free agency and see what shakes. If there’s a team out there that pays him any of the above aforementioned amounts, more power to them. Don’t get into a bidding war for him.
As for Gettleman getting “killed,” that’s already happened. He will be further lambasted by overpaying for Williams in free agency.
If the Giants bring Williams back it should be on their terms, not his. The worse case scenario by not signing him is they have nothing to show for the trade. They’ve already lost their third-round pick for this season. Next year’s pick becomes a fifth rounder instead of a fourth and the loss of Williams in free agency will be added to the compensatory draft pick equation for 2021.