The New York Giants have executed an early and seldom-seen in-season blockbuster trade, sending defensive lineman Leonard Williams to the Seattle Seahawks for a 2024 second-round and 2025 fifth-round draft pick, per multiple reports on Monday.
By trading Williams, general manager Joe Schoen is able to open up a bit more cap space for the Giants, who had approximately $508,000 in available space, per OverTheCap.com. The 29-year-old pass-rusher possessed the most expensive contract on the team’s books this season, making a base salary of $18 million while carrying a cap number north of $32 million. He is owed roughly $10 million for the remainder of the season, which the Giants will be taking most of, per ESPN’s Jordan Raanan.
The more money taken on maximized New York’s return from Seattle.
Prior to the 2022 season, Schoen and Williams restructured his contract to a three-year, $63 million pact that opened up roughly $12 million of space at the time for Schoen.
Dealing the USC product and former Jet takes away a key member of Big Blue’s defensive line, though he had struggled to regain his prolific sack numbers from the 2020 season. After taking the quarterback down a career-best 11.5 times that season, Williams has recorded a combined 10.5 sacks over the past three seasons, including just 1.5 in eight games in 2023. However, he blocked a vital field goal attempt in New York’s 14-7 victory in Week 7 over the Washington Commanders.
After making the playoffs last year well ahead of schedule, though, the Giants have regressed significantly in 2023. Their schedule has been significantly more difficult while quarterback Daniel Jones regressed mightily before suffering a neck injury in Week 5.
The defense, which started slow, has strengthened in recent weeks, allowing just 34 points across the past three weeks.
But with limited cap space and a litany of holes to fill, shedding Williams’ contract while bringing in important draft capital becomes a logical move for Schoen, who still has quite a deal of rebuilding to do for his Giants.