Seahawks Star Predicted to Bolt for Bengals in $50 Million Move

Leonard Williams

Getty The Seattle Seahawks face a decision on the future of Leonard Williams.

The Seattle Seahawks face a decision on the future of star defensive linemen Leonard Williams. Seattle acquired Williams in a blockbuster deal with the New York Giants ahead of the trade deadline on October 30, 2023.

Williams is slated to hit free agency, and the Seahawks have a brand new coaching staff. It will be worth watching to see if Mike Macdonald advocates for Seattle making a strong push to retain Williams.

Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport offered predictions for some of the top NFL free agents. The analyst projects Williams will sign a three-year, $50.5 million contract ($36.5 million guaranteed) with the Cincinnati Bengals.

“Leonard Williams isn’t the best defensive tackle hitting the market in 2024,” Davenport detailed in a February 22, 2024 story titled, “Best Team Fit, Projected Contract for the Top NFL Free Agent at Every Position.” “He’s just the best interior lineman with a real shot at leaving—Chris Jones of the Chiefs, Justin Madubuike of the Ravens and Christian Wilkins of the Dolphins will probably be extended and/or tagged by their current teams.

“This isn’t to say that the Seattle Seahawks won’t make an effort to keep Leonard Williams in the fold after trading for the 29-year-old in-season last year. But the Seahawks are upside down against the cap. And the tag for defensive tackles is almost $21 million in 2024. If Williams does hit the open market, the Bengals would be well-served to kick the tires.”

Seahawks Rumors: Leonard Williams’ Projected Market Value Is a 3-Year, $50 Million Contract

The Seahawks defense did not emerge as a particular strength of the roster in 2023. Yet, Williams was one of the few bright spots thanks to his consistency on the defensive line.

Williams posted 41 tackles, 11 quarterback hits, 9 tackles for loss and 4 sacks in his 10 starts with the Seattle following the mid-season trade. The former Pro Bowler’s play earned him a 76.2 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2023.

The star pass rusher just finished a three-year, $63 million contract. Williams’ future in Seattle likely depends on his price moving forward.

The Bleacher Report projections come from Spotrac’s market value for Williams: three-years, $50 million contract. This would give Williams an average annual salary of $16.7 million.

While not quite as pricey as his last contract, this is still an expensive move for the Seahawks. Seattle gave up a second rounder in the deal to land Williams and are likely inclined to attempt to keep the star in the Pacific Northwest.

Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl DT Justin Madubuike Is Slated to Be a Free Agent Fresh Off a Career-High 13 Sacks in 2023

One option for Seattle would be to allow Williams to walk in free agency and gain a compensatory pick for 2025. It is hard to imagine Macdonald’s preference not being to coach Williams in a Seahawks uniform.

There are other available interior defensive linemen headed to free agency. One name to watch is Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, who shined in Macdonald’s system.

This would likely be an even more expensive option for Seattle. Spotrac projects Madubuike’s market value to be a four-year, $81.2 million contract.

The Pro Bowler is coming off a career-high 13 sacks, 56 tackles, 33 quarterback hits and 12 tackles for loss in 17 starts last season. This is a massive spike in production for the 26-year-old, while Williams has a bit longer of a resume, even if his highs do not match Madubuike’s 2023 campaign. There is also a good chance the Ravens simply place the franchise tag on Madubuike preventing him from hitting free agency.

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