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Good news, Saints fans: NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that Marcus Williams has accepted the franchise tag, which will allow the team’s starting free safety to continue to negotiate a multiyear contract extension. Williams and the Saints must reach a deal by July 15, or else wait until the 2022 offseason to resume talks.
But both sides have incentives to get an agreement hammered out sooner than later. Williams won’t turn 25 until September, meaning he can sign a four- or even five-year extension and still expect another big money contract before he celebrates his 30th birthday. Additionally, the security a long-term agreement would bring is highly valuable compared to a one-year deal with no guarantees past 2021.
From the Saints’ perspective, it’s important to sign Williams for the foreseeable future so that they keep another part of their talented core on the roster; Williams is quickly climbing team record books in career accomplishments like interceptions. On top of that, a new contract extension would lower his $10.6 million salary cap hit, allowing New Orleans to sign free agents and re-up more of their own.
But how highly will he be paid on his next contract? For comparison, Denver Broncos franchise tagged safety Justin Simmons agreed to a four-year, $61 million extension with $35 million guaranteed — an average of $15.25 million per year. His stats are slightly better than Williams’, but they’re comparable enough for his payout to be brought up in contract talks.