EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants announced the team has placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on defensive tackle Leonard Williams, a former first-round draft choice for whom they sent the Jets two draft choices on Oct. 29 – a third-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft and a second choice that is a conditional fifth-rounder in 2021.
Williams was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday, the start of the NFL's new business year.
A franchise tag is basically a one-year deal that grants a window to negotiate a long-term contract. If there is no contract agreement before July 15, Williams will play the 2020 season under the one-year deal. His salary will be a calculation based on the average of the top five salaries from his position.
The move gives the two sides time to negotiate a long-term contract, though Williams is free to negotiate with other teams when the free agency signing period begins Wednesday. But if Williams signs a contract with another team, the Giants will receive two first round draft choices as compensation.
Williams is the first Giants player to receive a tag since another defensive lineman, Jason Pierre-Paul, in 2015.
Williams, 6-5 and 302 pounds, is a disruptive defender against both the run and pass. He played in eight games with five starts for the Giants and had 26 tackles (13 solo), a half-sack, two tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hits, two passes defended and a forced fumble.
Williams had a season-high five tackles in the Jets' season opener vs. Buffalo and in each of the Giants' games against Philadelphia, including a season-best five solo stops in Lincoln Financial Field on Dec. 9.
View photos of defensive lineman Leonard Williams.
The sixth overall selection in the 2015 draft, from USC, Williams has played in 79 career games with 75 starts. His career totals include 266 tackles (136 solo), 17.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and six passes defended.
Williams, 25, combined with 2017 second-round draft choice Dalvin Tomlinson, 2018 third-round selection B.J. Hill and 2019 first-rounder Dexter Lawrence to give the Giants a talented quartet of young defensive linemen.
The Giants also made a qualifying offer (a second round tender) to placekicker Aldrick Rosas, a restricted free agent.
Franchise, transition tags in Giants history:
- Jumbo Elliott (franchise player) in 1993.
- Carl Banks (transition player) in 1993.
- Howard Cross (transition player) in 1994.
- Rodney Hampton (transition player) in 1996.
- Brandon Jacobs (franchise player) in 2009.
- Steve Weatherford (franchise player) in 2012
- Jason Pierre-Paul (franchise player) in 2015