Giants’ Leonard Williams Replacement In Line for ‘Bigger Payday’

Leonard Williams

Getty Leonard Williams' replacement for the New York Giants is in line for a "bigger payday" in free agency.

Trading Leonard Williams to the Seattle Seahawks midway through the 2023 NFL season should have weakened the defensive line for the New York Giants, but A’Shawn Robinson helped keep the group performing at a high level.

Robinson’s performances as a replacement for Williams position him “for a bigger payday this offseason,” according to Dan Duggan of The Athletic. Duggan credits Robinson as “an example of a successful prove-it deal,” a veteran who “became a strong complement to (Dexter) Lawrence after Leonard Williams was traded.”

As Duggan pointed out, All-Pro nose tackle Dexter Lawrence II “is positioned to be the heart of the Giants defense for years,” but No. 97 needs a partner. Robinson might have done enough to qualify, provided the Giants want to pay up during free agency.

The presence of a late-round pick from the 2023 NFL draft, who is popular with coaches, could harm Robinson’s chances of earning with Big Blue.

A’Shawn Robinson Stepped Up After Leonard Williams Trade

Robinson got $5 million from the Giants last offseason. He was recruited as credible depth, having helped the Los Angeles Rams win the Super Bowl to cap the 2021 season.

The 28-year-old was also expected to help shore up a soft run defense. Robinson did his bit to clog rushing lanes once Williams was dealt to Seattle back in October.

No. 91 made an impact with plays like this run stuff against Brian Robinson Jr. and the Washington Commanders in Week 11, highlighted by Nick Falato of SB Nation’s Big Blue View.

This was just one of the 12.5 run stuffs ESPN credited Robinson with making. It’s an impressive tally for a lineman at his best defending the run.

Robinson continued his dominance on the ground four weeks later against the New Orleans Saints, per Bobby Skinner of Talkin’ Giants.

The Giants need somebody with this kind expertise snuffing out running plays at source. Even with Robinson in the lineup, the Giants were still vulnerable against the run, yielding 4.7 yards per carry.

Re-signing Robinson would give whoever replaces Don ‘Wink’ Martindale as defensive coordinator a proven commodity in the trenches. Alternatively, the Giants could increase playing time for a less heralded, but more cost-effective D-tackle.

Jordon Riley a Cheaper Alternative to A’Shawn Robinson

Seventh-round pick Jordon Riley played in only eight games, but the rookie impressed late in his debut season. Like Robinson, Riley became a force against the run, something showcased by this play against the Philadelphia Eagles on Christmas Day, highlighted by Falato.

Playing alongside Robinson helped Riley get up to speed in the pros. The two combined for an impressive run stop against Robinson’s old team the Rams in Week 17.

Riley made the play after shedding his blocker and wrapping up running back Kyren Williams, per Falato. Yet, the tackle owed as much to Robinson occupying a double team next to Riley.

Giving Riley more chances to replicate plays like these next to Lawrence would be cheaper than re-signing Robinson. It could happen, since Riley has some high-profile supporters including defensive line coach Andre Patterson and general manager Joe Schoen.

Duggan’s colleague Charlotte Carroll wrote in a separate article how “Patterson credited Riley’s work ethic and desire to improve. Schoen said he’s ‘excited’ about Riley’s prospects.”

Whatever the Giants decide, they need a run-stuffing force at the heart of a front seven punished on the ground too often in recent years.

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