We’ll be breaking down all the major and minor moves for NFL Free Agency with grades and analysis. You can find the comprehensive list of moves and grades here.
Reported deal: Three years/$63 million with $45 million guaranteed
It all came down to this. After a trade and two franchise tags, Leonard Williams had the leverage to get the contract he wanted from the New York Giants and, whew did he get a contract. With a $19 million cap hit on the books, the Giants needed to get Williams on a longer-term deal in order to drop his cap hit for 2021 and while the deal will average $21 million, his 2021 number drops to $11 million.
This can’t be framed as anything other than a win for Williams. This contract puts him in line with DeForest Buckner among interior defenders by both average and guaranteed money, only below Aaron Donald. Donald only got $50 guaranteed on his six-year deal. Williams got $45 on three years.
With the Jets and even with his first half season with the Giants, Williams was a player who could push the pocket from the interior but those pressures rarely turned into sacks. Even in Williams’s breakout 2020 with 11.5 sacks, he still fell below the league average quarterback hit-to-sack conversion rate (~40%).
|Year||Quarterback Hits||Sacks||Conversion %|
Had the Giants either gotten a deal done immediately after the trade in 2019 or last offseason, they could have had Williams under a more affordable contract when he experienced his production boost in 2020.
For the Giants to get the most out of this deal, the hope will have to be that Williams continues to get to the quarterback at the same rate he did in 2020. He was a good fit for Patrick Graham’s defense while Williams played both inside and on the edge. The Giants don’t have much of a pass rush outside of Williams now and will need help from another pass rusher, either with another free agent signing or through the draft.
Either way, this is a huge deal the Giants put themselves in a position to have to give out considering the circumstances that led to this offseason. Williams has been a really good player who will have to be one of the best interior players in the league in order to live up to his new deal.