Play like one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL and you will get paid like one of the best defensive linemen in the league. Leonard Williams is coming off multiple seasons performing at a high level and the Giants and the young defensive lineman agreed to a three-year $63 million contract with $45 million guaranteed.
Williams has been franchised tagged two years in a row with this offseason being his most recent tag.
It appeared that Williams was unhappy with being franchise-tagged and wanted to secure a long-term extension. Williams would have made $19.4 million under the franchise tag in 2021, but by agreeing to a long-term deal he will make even more.
Williams secures one of the largest non-quarterback contracts this free agency and by signing only a three-year contract he has the opportunity to reach free agency once again very soon. At 26, this will not be the last time we hear Williams’s name in the news for signing a massive contract extension.
Leonard Williams Gets Paid: Strong 2020 Season
Leonard Williams is coming off of his best season in the NFL in 2020. A year ago Williams set a career-high in sacks getting to the quarterback 11.5 times while also having a career-high 14 tackles for loss and 30 quarterback hits.
Williams was a force on the Giant’s defensive line and a bright spot in what was a very disappointing season with not much good happening. To the surprise of many Williams did not end up making the pro bowl and this can be because this year’s game did not have any reserves as the game did not get played due to Covid-19.
Highest-Paid Defensive Lineman?
No. Williams is still behind Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald, but being in any conversation with Aaron Donald, especially when it comes to contracts is a good thing. Williams is now tied for the second-highest-paid defensive lineman in the league with Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.
This contract puts Williams in an elite company and he will need to continue to stack big stat lines in the coming years as expectations have surely increased.
Some of the names mentioned above have a much better track record than Williams making their paydays much more understandable. With the payday the Giants just gave Williams they have extremely high expectations for the versatile defensive lineman and invested in him instead of defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson who the Giants drafted.
Tomlinson left the Giants signing with the Minnesota Vikings on a two-year contract worth $22 million. With Tomlinson in Minnesota it Williams becomes the leader of the defensive line and needs to continue to step up on the field and in the locker room.
Who is Leonard Williams?
Williams is the former sixth overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft out of the University of Southern California. Williams was selected by the New York Jets but did not contribute in the ways the Jets expected when drafting him so highly.
In his second year in the NFL Williams showed glimpses of his ability recording seven sacks and making his first career pro bowl, but in the following years, his numbers declined.
It appeared that the Jets quickly gave up on Williams and ended up trading him to the Giants in exchange for a 2020 third-round pick and a 2021 fifth-round pick. After seeing Williams’ performance since coming to the Giants it is clear that the Giants won this trade.
At 6’5″ 302 lbs. Williams has everything a coach could want in a defensive lineman, especially his position flexibility being able to rush from both the inside and outside positions.