New York Jets: Leonard Williams traded to New York Giants as fire sale begins
By Justin Fried
New York Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams has officially been traded to the New York Giants marking a historic trade for the two franchises.
The New York Jets have officially opened shop. The Jets sent defensive lineman Leonard Williams packing to the New York Giants in exchange for a 2020 third-round pick and a conditional 2021 fifth-round pick, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
This historic deal marks the first time the two franchises have ever made a trade with each other despite rumblings of an agreement in recent years. And for Williams, this marks the end of what has been an up-and-down five years with the Jets.
Williams was originally drafted sixth overall by the Jets in the 2015 NFL Draft and initially appeared destined for stardom.
After playing a rotational role for much of his rookie season sitting behind the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, Williams broke out in his second NFL season securing seven sacks en route to his first and so far only Pro Bowl appearance.
Unfortunately, he would never again reach the same heights in his Jets career as his play slowly declined over subsequent years. And going into this season, the Jets were left facing a decision of whether or not they wanted to extend him at the end of the season.
Clearly, Gang Green has made up their minds and it’s easy to see why.
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The Jets have seen unlikely players on their defensive line step up this season with the likes of undrafted rookie Kyle Phillips and former sixth-round pick Folorunso Fatukasi playing exceedingly well.
In fact, the duo has pretty much outperformed Williams in every conceivable way — even including the USC star’s recent stretch of good games. And apart from them, the Jets still have a ton of depth on the interior of the defensive line.
The team just used the third overall pick on Quinnen Williams who, while he’s been quiet thus far, should still be a focal point of the defense going forward. On top of that, nose tackle Steve McLendon was recently re-signed for next season and Henry Anderson remains under contract as well.
Leonard Williams was expendable and the price was more than right.
That conditional fifth-round pick will reputedly turn into a fourth-rounder if the Giants decide to re-sign Williams at the end of the season sweetening the value for Gang Green even more. The Jets will also pay $4 million of Williams’ $6 million salary this season, per Schefter.
For a player who once seemed destined for greatness, it’s an unceremonious end to his Jets career. Perhaps he could revitalize his career playing for the team’s crosstown rivals in the Giants.
But for now, it appears that the Jets are in full-on sell mode as they look to stockpile draft capital ahead of another offseason of roster turnover.