May 17, 2021

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Jets trading Leonard Williams to rival Giants

2 min read
Jets trading Leonard Williams to rival Giants

One New York team’s trash is another New York team’s treasure.

The NFL trade deadline makes strange bedfellows, and on Monday, it brought the Giants and Jets together for a rare deal. The Giants acquired defensive lineman Leonard Williams — a former Jets first-round pick — and sent a 2020 third-round draft pick and 2021 fifth-round pick to the Jets as compensation.

On the surface, it seems like an odd move by the Giants. Of all their problems, defensive line does not feel like a front-burner issue after taking Dexter Lawrence with the No. 17 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Williams is only 25 and was the sixth-overall selection in the 2015 draft, at the time regarded in some circles as the best player in that draft. Williams, though, has not played to that level and he does not have a contract for the 2020 season. Why would the Giants send away two draft picks for a player they are renting for half a season? Perhaps they have already spoken with Williams about a contract.

The best anyone can say about Williams is he is highly durable, having missed only one game in four-plus years and starting 70 of 71 games for the Jets. He was a solid player for the Jets, with 17 career sacks, but never broke out as an impact player and never lived up to his lofty draft status.

Williams signed a four-year rookie deal worth $18.6 million and is playing this season on the fifth-year option of $14.2 million.

The Giants are 2-6 and the Jets are 1-6, both teams wallowing in losing. They face each other Nov. 10, a Jets home game at MetLife Stadium, and Williams will get a chance to line up against his own team and try to put a hit on Sam Darnold.

The Giants start B.J. Hill, Lawrence and Dalvin Tomlinson on their three-man defensive line. Hill is 24, Lawrence is 21 and Tomlinson is 25. This does not bode well for either Hill or Tomlinson, as the Giants did not acquire Williams to stand on the sideline.

For more on the Giants, listen to the latest episode of the “Blue Rush” podcast:

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