Dave Gettleman swore his "thick rhino hide" was tough enough to handle the criticism he'd get if he let Leonard Williams simply walk away for nothing.
But the world will never know.
The Giants, as expected, placed the franchise tag on the 25-year-old Williams on Monday, the team announced. That has long been the Giants' plan, multiple sources said, since the moment they acquired him from the Jets in October. They did try to sign him to a long-term contract, but sources said they were never close to making that a reality.
And after the Giants traded a third-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick to the Jets for him at the trading deadline, they were never willing to let him walk away for nothing at all.
The Giants also tagged Williams as a defensive tackle - the position he's played most frequently throughout his five-year NFL career. That is expected to carry a one-year price tag of about $16.1 million. It also could cause a problem because, as SNY previously reported, Williams' camp was considering filing a grievance if he wasn't tagged a defensive end - a tag that would've raised his price to over $19 million for one year.
It's also not clear if Williams will be willing to sign the tag and play out the season. The Giants, however, still want to sign him to a long-term deal, according to a source. The issue, as always, is price. Williams made $11.4 million last season while playing on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. The Giants would like to sign him to a long-term deal in the $12-13 million per year range - preferably during this offseason.
Williams, however, had his eyes on much more given the crazy prices that pass rushers tend to get on the open market. It's unclear if he'll be willing to accept a short-term deal in the Giants' price range which would give him another shot at free agency in 2-3 years. At this point, though, any deal would have to guarantee him more than the $16.1 million he's now guaranteed to get this year.
Williams, of course, was picked sixth overall by the Jets in the 2015 NFL draft. But he never lived up to the expectations that he'd become a premier pass rusher. In five NFL seasons he has only 17 ½ sacks, including just a half sack between the two teams last year.
The Giants, though, love his ability to stop the run and disrupt the pocket, even if the sack numbers aren't there. They view him as a key piece of their defense and a future anchor of their rebuilt defensive line.