When the New York Giants traded for defensive lineman Leonard Williams at the trade deadline a season ago, Big Blue hoped they’d found themselves a true anchor of their front-seven. Eight games and a meager 0.5 sack later, that was clearly not the case.
Still, general manager Dave Gettleman remained bullish on his decision to acquire Williams from their MetLife roommates, the New York Jets, slapping the former 6th-overall pick with the franchise tag this offseason. A move that may come back to greatly haunt the franchise in the near future. A sentiment that Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report clearly backs, evident by his placement of the Williams situation as the Giants’ biggest regret of the 2020 offseason.
Let’s be honest. The New York Giants may regret trading for defensive lineman Leonard Williams more than they regret hanging onto him. They gave the crosstown Jets a third-round pick and a conditional fourth-rounder to land Williams and got little in return.
In eight games, Williams had just 13 solo tackles and half a sack. Yet general manager Dave Gettleman has defended the trade.
“The juice was worth the squeeze,” Gettleman said, per SNY’s Garrett Stepien.
Well, the Giants have squeezed twice now for Williams, giving him the franchise tag for another audition in 2020. That’s going to cost New York a whopping $16.1 million for a player who had just 46 total tackles and half a sack in all of 2019.
However, Dan Graziano of ESPN sees things playing out a bit differently, as noted in his breakdown of “50-Plus NFL Players Who Could Get Contract Extensions Before the 2020 Season.” Graziano bets that “he [Williams] plays out the season and hits free agency in March, as the Giants don’t need the cap room they’d get from extending Williams.”
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When it comes down to it, Williams gets a bit of a bad rap from Giants fans. Plenty of it has to do with what Gettleman gave up to acquire him, namely a 3rd-round selection. The rest is his statistics not living up to what you’d expect from a player of his draft stature. However, plenty of what Williams brings to the table can not be seen on the stat sheet.
For instance, his 19 QB-hits in 2019 led all interior defensive lineman, while his pressure rate of 11.3% ranked 13th amongst players at his position.
Still, the question is, is that kind of under the radar excellence worth a price tag north of $16 million per year? The easy answer is no, but it’s clear the Giants have a different viewpoint on the situation.