Leonard Williams, arguably the most impactful player on the up-and-coming Giants defense, was set to become a free agent next Wednesday. This move makes him a near-lock for the Giants roster in 2021 and the only player in Giants history to have been tagged twice. The two sides have until July 15 to negotiate a long-term deal, or Leonard Williams will be paid $19 million in 2021 on the franchise tag.
Why keep Leonard Williams off the market?
The former sixth overall pick of the 2015 draft was traded to the Giants from the Jets in 2019. In his second year with the organization, Williams recorded the best numbers of his career. The clear defensive standout put up 11.5 sacks, which lead the defense, and it was the most productive sack year of his career. He recorded 57 tackles, 29 of them being solo. He had 14 tackles for loss and 30 QB hits, which tied for sixth in the league.
The 26-year-old was named NFC defensive player of the week twice this past season. The first time came in Week 13 at Seattle. He recorded 2.5 sacks and led the team with 5 QB hits against the elusive Russell Wilson. His second run at this weekly honor came in the Giants' Week 17 game vs. Dallas. Fighting for a playoff berth, Williams put up seven tackles, five QB hits, three sacks, three tackles for loss, and a pass deflection. On one critical third-down, Williams pressured Dalton who threw a fatal interception to rookie safety, Xavier McKinney, which ended Dallas' season.
Will the Giants reach a deal with Leonard Williams?
Giants' GM, Dave Gettleman, said at today's press conference that he will not discuss any contracts until they are completed. It is incredibly likely the two parties will come to a deal by July 15 as there is mutual interest on both sides for Williams to return. Giants' head coach, Joe Judge, stated today, "I'd love to have Leonard back."
Leonard Williams was a clear star for this Giants defense this past season, and if he stays with Patrick Graham, the defensive coordinator, we shouldn't expect anything less.