Leonard Williams trade grade: Giants pay steep price for another interior lineman, Jets get draft capital
The Giants made a questionable move for Williams, while the Jets cash in on draft picks
For the first time in NFL history, the New York Giants and New York Jets have traded with each other. The straw the broke the camel's back was Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams as for the No. 6 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. The Jets will be paying $4 million of Williams's $6 million salary this year and the Giants are only giving up $3.5 million for the opportunity to sign Williams this offseason.
Here are the trade grades for each team:
Giants Trade Grade: B-
Interesting the Giants chose to trade for another defensive lineman when they have established starters at defensive line and are heading toward a top-10 pick in 2020 (which applies for all rounds). Trading a third-round pick in next year's draft is steep for the rights to sign Williams, who hasn't been productive in 2019. Williams has 20 tackles, five quarterback hits, and zero sacks in seven games this season, his first in a new defensive scheme under Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
The Giants aren't betting on the 2019 version of Williams, who was a square peg in a round hole in this new scheme. They're paying for the 2015 through 2018 version of Williams who played in a defensive scheme that was one-gap and aggressive. Per Pro Football Focus, Williams had 43 tackles for loss among interior defenders since 2016, which was third in the NFL. He had 63 quarterback hits and 122 quarterback hurries in his first four seasons. Giants' defensive coordinator James Bettcher runs a system similar to former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, so the Giants' defense should get the bang for their buck for Williams, who is just 25 years old.
Here's where the confusion lies. The Giants paid a steep price for a defensive lineman even though they drafted Dexter Lawrence in the first round of this year's draft and have 2017 second-round pick Dalvin Tomlinson on the payroll. Williams can rotate on the inside and outside, but is better suited to play where Tomlinson is. Not to mention Tominson has a year left on his contract, which makes the situation more confusing. Trading for Williams indicates the Giants will move on from Tomlinson and attempt to sign Williams, who is expected to receive a hefty contract as a free agent. If the Giants sign Williams, that 2021 fifth-round pick becomes a fourth and they will surely be paying him a salary above the $14.2 million per season he's making this year. The Giants have a projected $65.8 million available in cap space for 2020 (per Over The Cap), but they need more than Williams in order to improve upon a bottom-five defense in the NFL. Signing Williams to a massive deal could hinder the Giants' ability to improve in other areas in free agency, especially if the player who has two sacks over the past 12 months continues that play in the same stadium.
Jets Trade Grade: B+
The Jets made it clear they weren't going to pay Williams this offseason, putting him on the trading block and seeing what teams would pay for the former top-10 draft pick. The Jets weren't expected to get much for Williams due to his lack of production over the past two years, but general manager Joe Douglas was able to snatch a 2020 third-round pick and a 2021 fifth-round pick (fourth if Williams signs with Giants). The Giants currently sit at 2-6, holding the No. 6 overall pick in the draft -- the Jets would get the sixth pick of the third round (the Jets are currently slated for the fifth pick in the third round). They received the best offer they could for Williams, who was on his way out. The Jets currently have four of the first 70 picks overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, a haul needed for Douglas and his front office as they prepare for their first draft with the club.
The Jets can receive even more of a draft haul as they have wide receiver Robby Anderson available on the trade block. With the way the wide receiver market is going leading up to the deadline, the Jets will be in great shape to reshape their roster if they can get a second-round pick for Anderson over the next 24 hours. The 2019 season is over for the Jets. It's all about 2020.
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