There’s no doubt that star interior defender Leonard Williams is a highly valuable asset to the New York Giants. However, he is also one of the highest-paid players in the NFL, commanding a cap hit of $32.26 million in the upcoming season.
While a potential release could save the Giants $12 million, finding a replacement for Williams’ prowess as a dominant pass rusher and premium run defender might be a difficult task.
Leonard Williams’ Reliability and Performance
Despite the challenges presented by a neck injury, which limited his playtime to a career-low 12 games last season, Williams has shown remarkable reliability. At 28, he has never played fewer than 15 games in a season and has completed a full campaign on six occasions, even earning a Pro Bowl appearance in 2016.
Williams’ 2020 season, following a trade from the New York Jets, was a highlight of his professional career. He racked up 57 combined tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 30 quarterback hits, and a career-high 11.5 sacks. In 2021, he established himself as a premier run-stopper, while also developing a special chemistry with fellow defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence.
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“I think I have a good camaraderie with my teammates. I would love to keep playing with Dex [Dexter Lawrence]. I would love to keep playing with these coaches that I’ve gotten to know,” Williams said. “I’m also not one of those players that wants to bounce around team to team. I want to be able to be here.”Via Big Blue View
As he approaches his 29th birthday this upcoming season, Williams may be eyeing one last significant payday. But even a team-friendly deal could prove too costly for the Giants, who are looking to upgrade other positions, notably wide receiver, and possibly acquire another offensive lineman depending on how the unit develops this upcoming season.
The New York Giants are looking forward
Despite the uncertainties, Williams is looking forward to returning to the team fully fit and ready to perform, following the neck injury that limited him in 2022.
“During the season it was just hard for it to recover just because every time I made a tackle I would feel it,” Williams said. “It wasn’t really going to go away until the season ended. I’ve had a few months off now and I’ve been back in the weight room and I haven’t been feeling it at all.
With the potential pairing of Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and Azeez Ojulari, the Giants have the potential to field an elite unit, health permitting.
The Giants’ next moves will certainly be interesting to watch, with Williams and Adoree Jackson both on expiring contracts. Losing two key pieces will need to be balanced with strategic acquisitions. General manager Joe Schoen, however, appears to be taking his time to build the roster and make sound financial decisions.