Giants forced into Leonard Williams contract decision they were trying to avoid

The Giants cut their future budget this season to get the hell out of the salary cap.

Despite general manager Joe Schoen saying he wants to do everything possible to avoid the situation, the Giants have the option to renegotiate the contract of defensive lineman Leonard Williams to come under the pay limit before Tuesday’s deadline. There was no option left.

The Giants converted nearly $18 million of Williams’ $19 million salary for this season into a signing bonus and added a zero year to his contract, which allows the cap fee to be distributed evenly over the three seasons. Therefore, Williams’ new cap hits are $15.3 million for 2022 (instead of $27.3 million), $32.2 million for 2023 (instead of $26.3 million), and $6 million for 2024, even if his deal is in place by then. .

“We have to get where we need to get through the season,” Schoen said last week. “But the situation is the situation. This is the hand we have been dealt with, and we are going to do the best we can with what we have.”

With the reorganization of arguably his best defensive player, the Giants grew from $5.2 million over the cap to about $6.72 million under the cap, according to NFL Players Association records. Cornerback Adori ‘Jackson was the other logical candidate for a reorganization.

Leonard Williams (right) welcomes Brian Dabol at Giants practice on August 5, 2022.
Robert Sabo

Williams will receive the same amount of cash throughout the life of his contract – sooner than expected. Players typically cannot decline and do not have to approve a pay-to-bonus restructuring.

“It doesn’t really change anything,” Williams told The Post. “If anything, it’s better because I’m happy that I’m helping the team with the cap space, and I’m getting the same amount instead of waiting for it.”

In most cases, such a restructuring makes it more difficult to cut the player in the future as it increases the dead-cap fee and thus makes the player more secure. But the Giants cut James Bradberry in May after restructuring his deal twice last season.

Leonard Williams pressures Sam Darnold on October 25, 2021.
Leonard Williams pressures Sam Darnold on October 25, 2021.
Robert Sabo

The Giants are flush with cap space in 2023—about $55.6 million, the second-highest amount in the NFL, according to overthecap.com. But that doesn’t mean Williams is completely safe from cuts next season as the Giants could pull out of their bloated $32.2 million charge – the fourth-highest among non-quarterbacks – to save $12 million in dead money. ranging from $20.2 million.

Williams’ position can easily be traced back to a controversial trade with the Jets during October 2019.

In the midst of a lost season, the Giants lost the advantage of all future negotiations with Williams, trading two draft picks for him only a few months earlier scheduled to hit free agency. He was forced to use the franchise tag on him during a groundbreaking season in which he produced half the sack, which in turn put him in tense negotiations to keep him from free agency, top dollar (three years, $63 million). paid. Williams flew a career-high 11 sacks in 2020.

The terms of Williams’ restructuring were first reported on Tuesday by The Athletic and ESPN.

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