Leonard Williams
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

There are numerous reasons as to why trading for defensive lineman Leonard Williams is the wrong move for the New York Giants.

Ryan Honey

The NFL trade deadline is already around the corner, as it lands on Tuesday of this week at 4 p.m. ET. Teams will be shipping out current players or future draft picks in order to receive assets that’ll benefit them for the future.

One of these teams is the New York Giants; but thus far, the one trade they’ve made may not benefit them at all.

More importantly, it’s as strange as it gets in the NFL.

On Monday, Big Blue decided to send a 2020 third-round pick and a 2021 fifth-round pick to the New York Jets. In exchange, they received defensive lineman Leonard Williams. As a fan, you may initially brag about the move and “ooh and ahh” about how this team is adding a Pro Bowl defensive lineman to the roster. After all, it is a position that’s been rather quiet this year.

However, as time goes on, you start to dig deeper into the move. You start to analyze the pros and cons surrounding it. That’s when the excitement you contained will transition to anxiety. The “oohs and ahhs” become “oh no’s.” Unfortunately, Giants fans, it’s not a great deal at all, and there’s a multitude of reasons to back that up.

For one, this Giants team is far from good at the moment. They succumbed to an 8-24 combined record through 2017-18. They’ve now started 2-6 through the first eight games of the current campaign, decreasing their combined record since the start of the 2017 season to 10-30. This means that, believe it or not, this organization is in rebuilding mode, so giving away any future draft picks is the incorrect move.

And why go away from past selections so quickly?

Big Blue has spent a lot of time putting together its current depth at the defensive line spot. In the previous three drafts, they’ve selected Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill and Dexter Lawrence, respectively. All three of these individuals have formed the current group of starters, and although they have been statistically quiet this year, can be groomed into something special.

Sticking with the current individuals on the defensive line is also a much cheaper route than going with Williams for the future. The now-former Jet is still on his rookie contract and will be due up for a new deal at the end of this season. He’s currently on a four-year, $18.6 million contract, and is going to want an upgrade prior to the 2020 season.

Say the Giants do indeed give Williams the money he wants, where does that leave Tomlinson and Hill? Are they eventually traded or released? Would the Giants really choose to waste their time and part ways after just a few years? Additionally, the value of the defensive line position has gone up. Therefore, the Giants would leave themselves with less money to eventually pay other assets on either side of the ball.

Also, if a deal is done with Williams prior to next season, that 2021 fifth-round pick would become a fourth-round pick. Thus, the Giants would then be giving up even more valuable assets than they already are.

But say the Giants don’t give him the money. Then, the trade becomes a huge waste. New York would be giving away future draft picks for what would be deemed a rental player. The Giants would, most likely, receive a compensatory pick near a third-round value if Leonard walks, but it won’t match the high slot thanks to the Giants’ projected record. And, of course, no comp pick is guaranteed based on many factors.

A rental player makes zero sense for a team that isn’t playoff-bound.

Unless the Giants can convince him to stay and re-sign, it seems as if this Dave Gettleman-led front office is treating Williams like the missing piece of this season. In reality, there are multiple missing pieces for this organization.

Not to mention, Williams has regressed in recent years. It’s obvious he has, or else the Jets wouldn’t be willing to ship him to their crosstown rivals. This deal marks the first time these teams have ever done trade-related business with one another.

Williams’ Pro Bowl season was in 2016, where he racked up 68 tackles, 11 tackles-for-loss, seven sacks, and two forced fumbles. Each of these numbers remain career highs. Since then, he combined for 47 and 42 tackles in 2017 and 2018, respectively. He also achieved two and five sacks, respectively, in those seasons as well.

His numbers aren’t like they used to be and are still not improving. Through seven games this season, he has 20 total tackles, zero tackles-for-loss, and zero sacks. For a 16-game spread (one whole regular season), he’s on pace for around 46 combined tackles (would be his second-lowest single-season total), zero sacks (would be a career-low) and zero tackles-for-loss (would be a career-low).

Williams is most certainly not the answer to any of the Giants’ problems, which there are many of at the moment. Giving the Jets two future draft picks for him actually puts the Giants in an even worse spot when you consider the future.

Simply put, the Giants can’t, and won’t, win in any scenario arising from this deal.

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