Giants putting themselves in tough spot with Leonard Williams tag

Dave Gettleman continues to make costly mistakes for the Giants. Franchising Leonard Williams is the latest in a long line of personnel errors in New York. 

Leonard Williams is a solidly above-average interior defensive lineman. There’s no question that he will make the Giants’ defense better in 2021. That doesn’t mean New York was correct in slapping the franchise tag on the veteran run-stopper.

Proponents of the deal will point out that New York wants to work out a long-term extension with Williams rather than pay him over $19 million on the tag next season. The problem with that logic is that GM Dave Gettleman has already anchored the negotiations at an exorbitant price tag. Williams no longer has any motivation to accept a deal with an annual average value of under $19 million per season.

The chances of Williams playing up to that contract are remote. He’s an excellent interior run defender, but his lack of pass-rushing skills dramatically limits his ceiling as a player. The Giants are still paying him based on his draft status as the No. 6 overall pick back in 2015. The deal isn’t going to crush their salary cap moving forward but it’s another clear overpay by Gettleman and his staff.

NFL Rumors: Are Giants making a mistake tagging Leonard Williams?

The better move would have been to let Williams walk in favor of re-signing Dalvin Tomlinson. He’s not quite as good as Williams in a vacuum, but he would be a better value on the contract he’d be willing to accept in free agency. It’s possible Tomlinson’s deal is going to come in at half what Williams receives in the end. It’s now almost certain that Tomlinson will be playing his football somewhere else next season.

Paying Tomlinson a modest salary and finding a cheaper partner for him on the interior would have bought New York precious cap space to put toward solving the roster’s more important needs. The team desperately needs to find superior edge-rushing options if they want to improve their defense. That’s a skill Williams doesn’t provide and the premium they are paying him will make it difficult to acquire a player who can mitigate his weaknesses along the defensive perimeter.

At some point, the Giants are going to move on from Gettleman and be rid of costly mistakes like these. Until that happens, New York will continue to overpay for modest talent.

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