The conundrum that New York Giants’ pass rusher Leonard Williams has created among the fans is toxic. When general manager Dave Gettleman traded a third and fifth-round pick for Williams from the New York Jets, most were perplexed at the decision.
Ultimately, Williams brought experience and pass rush efficiency to Big Blue. Before he entered the fold, the Giants were relying on rookie Dexter Lawrence, second-year interior defender BJ Hill, and veteran Dalvin Tomlinson.
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The New York Giants are a better team with Leonard Williams on the field
Leonard immediately made an impact, helping his teammates produce more and draw double teams frequently. Over eight games with the Giants, he posted 0.5 sacks, 26 combined tackles, two tackles for loss, and 11 quarterback hits. His 3.7% missed tackle rate was solid and he showed the ability to collapse the pocket and force early throws.
The value Williams brings is clear, but his inability to reach the quarterback and take him to the ground has been the focal point regarding the justification of Gettleman’s trade. However, the Giants hit Williams with the franchise tag this off-season, which will pay him $16.1 million in 2020.
The entire debate holds minimal value until we see what type of player Williams is next season. If he can produce elevated numbers and get after the quarterback well, the trade will have been justified. If he fails to leave his mark, Gettleman could lose his job because of it.
The one-year deal the Giants offered Leonard is a good move. It allows them to move on if he doesn’t perform in 2020. Having no long-term implications is a great thing, aside from the fact they will have lost a third and fifth-round pick from the 2020 NFL draft.
Those picks could have resulted in a starting center or new pass rusher to add to the rotation. That was the opportunity cost of bringing in Williams, who currently serves as one of the better players on defense.
The bottom line, the 2020 season will give us all the answers we need to judge Gettleman’s acquisition of Williams. However, it is too early to make any final decisions on the matter.