New York Giants: Leonard Williams on his way to a career year

New York Giants, Leonard Williams
Anthony Rivardo (edit)

New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has had mixed reviews in his first three years with the Giants. Gettleman has made a handful of great decisions, mixed in with a fair amount of poor decisions. By far his most controversial decision, however, was trading for defensive lineman Leonard Williams in the middle of the 2019 season.

The Giants’ season was pretty much over when Gettleman made the trade. New York had no real chance of making the playoffs and was not one interior defender away from turning things around. Regardless, Gettleman made the trade, giving up two draft picks to acquire Leonard “Big Cat” Williams.

Since then, Leonard Williams has been a star for the Giants. Of course, some fans will still criticize the trade since Williams was set to be a free agent at the end of the 2019 season. Gettleman could have tried to sign him in the offseason without giving up draft picks. But there is no time machine to change the way Leonard Williams got here, but now that he is here, he is playing like one of the best defensive linemen in football.

Leonard Williams Stats and Highlights

Over the final eight weeks of the 2019 season, Williams was solid for the Giants, but he was not very productive. He made an impact, opening things up for his teammates and totaling a solid amount of quarterback pressures. But he finished the eight-week stint with only 0.5 sack.

The Giants placed the franchise tag on Williams in the offseason after the two sides were unable to come to an agreement on a long-term contract. Leo needed to put together a top-tier season to earn that lucrative extension. So far, he has done just that, putting together what could be a career-year for the sixth-year pro out of USC.

Through eleven games, Leonard Williams has already totaled six sacks this season. His career-high sack total is seven, so he seems to be on pace to surpass that by season’s end. Williams made the Pro Bowl just once with the Jets in 2016. There is a good chance he earns his second Pro Bowl nod this season, though, as Williams is performing as one of the NFL’s best interior defensive linemen.

Leonard Williams has totaled 36 combined tackles this season with 8 tackles for loss. He has been excellent defending the run, but his productivity as a pass-rusher has been the difference-maker this year. Leonard has already racked up 19 quarterback hits and 22 pressures to go along with his six sacks.

Playing out this year on the franchise tag, Leonard Williams will once again be a free agent this offseason. The Giants will have to sign Williams to a huge contract this offseason if they want to keep him around long-term. But based on his performance this season, Leonard Williams seems in line for a big contract, whether it be with the Giants or another team in free agency.