Should the New York Giants extend Leonard Williams on a long-term deal?

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

The New York Giants’ defense has been stellar this season, especially the last four weeks, holding all of their opponents to 20 points or less. Against the Seattle Seahawks in week 13, an offense averaging 30 points per game, they limited them to just 12, minus the safety that tacked on two points at the close of the first half.

One of the major difference-makers in the contest was interior defender Leonard Williams, who had an incredible performance — possibly the best of his entire career.

Entering the game with 6.0 sacks on the year, he was just one away from tying his personal best. Nonetheless, he shattered his personal record by 1.5 sacks against Seattle, recording 2.5 sacks on the day and five quarterback hits. He now has 39 total tackles and 11 tackles for a loss on the season to go with 24 QB hits.

It’s time to give credit where it’s due, general manager Dave Gettleman traded a third and fifth-round pick for Williams last season when the Giants were in a bad position. In hindsight, the deal looks valuable, as Big Blue has one of the best interior defenders on their defense, and he’s overproducing when compared to the franchise tag he is currently on ($16.1 million).

The New York Giants’ defense needs Leonard Williams:

Overall, Williams has been a major piece to their puzzle, especially with new couches and faces scattered across the roster. Utilizing a bevy of undrafted free agents and youngsters, the Giants didn’t expect to have such a stellar defense the season.

In fact, most believe it would be at the bottom of the league but somehow rank in the top 10 in most categories. After the win against Seattle, the Giants’ defense is comfortably in the top 10 in points allowed per game and within the top five in rushing yards allowed per game. Their secondary is still working out some kinks, but they have seen a drastic improvement in the past four weeks.

The ongoing debate is, should the giants extend Leonard Williams on a long-term deal?

Based on the way defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has brought the best out of Williams, it seems fair that they reward him with a long-term contract. If the Giants don’t do it, another team will — he has been such a key cog on defense, and letting him walk would be a significant loss.

Replicating his production is nearly impossible, despite having Dalvin Tomlinson and Dexter Lawrence on the roster. With the cap space expected to drop by at most $20 million next season, keeping their defensive pieces in place will be problematic. However, they have to find a way to retain Williams and Tomlinson on the interior, two players who have become dominant in this new scheme.

Based on his production, Leonard could command upwards of $16 million per season, but the Giants could always hit him with another franchise tag on a one-year deal. However, he could easily hold out and refuse to play based on the lack of reward, but I imagine the Giants are noticing how impactful he is on defense.