Leonard Williams, Giants Reportedly Agree to New 3-Year, $63M Contract

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2021

New York Giants' Leonard Williams warms-up before an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Corey Sipkin)
Corey Sipkin/Associated Press

Leonard Williams still hasn't played for a team outside of New York in his NFL career.

The New York Giants re-signed the defensive end to a three-year, $63 million contract on Tuesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The deal reportedly includes $45 million fully guaranteed.

This is not a surprising move considering Rapoport reported March 9 the team saw the franchise tag it placed on him as a "placeholder for a long-term deal."

Williams entered the league when the New York Jets selected him with the No. 6 overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft. He spent his first four full seasons with the Jets until they traded him to the Giants for a third- and fifth-round pick during the 2019 season.

The USC product appeared to be well on his way to a dominant NFL career when he made the Pro Bowl in his second season with 68 tackles, seven sacks and two forced fumbles.

However, Williams' breakout campaign was not a sign of things to come with the Jets as he started to resemble a high-profile bust instead.

He posted two sacks in 2017, a solid but unspectacular five in 2018 and a mere 0.5 sacks in 2019, which he split between the two New York teams. It seemed at the time that the Jets fleeced the Giants in the deal when his production completely fell off, and it was fair to wonder where his career was headed prior to the 2020 campaign.

Williams played the 2020 season under the franchise tag, which represented a high-pressure opportunity to prove he was worth a longer deal before free agency.

He seized his chance to make an impression on the rest of the league and the Giants by playing in all 16 games and tallying 57 tackles, a career-high 11.5 sacks and a fumble recovery.

"It's never been about money for me," Williams said when reflecting on his 2020 effort, per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. "I was kind of drafted high, made a lot of money already in my career. I feel like I was smart enough and I could retire now and still have enough money for the rest of my life, but it's never been about the money. I think I more wanted respect and to show guys the reason why I'm in this league. It's more about the respect to me than the contract."

Williams earned plenty of respect in 2020 with a career-best season and is still just 26 years old.

If he continues playing as he did last year, he can help the Giants reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2016 campaign.