Leonard Williams didn’t acquire a long-term deal from the New York Giants this offseason, but that’s not going to slow him down in 2020.
Sign Leonard Williams to a long-term deal and likely lose a significant amount of cap space, or let him walk and have the October 2019 trade become a near-absolute waste.
Neither choice was exactly music to the New York Giants front office’s ears, so the organization went with a third option: the franchise tag. The 26-year-old defensive lineman is now entering what’s slated to be his first full season with Big Blue on a one-year deal, but that certainly isn’t discouraging him.
“I wouldn’t say [the situation] was disappointing,” Williams said, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “I kind of knew the situation I was coming off of last year. I think it’s actually a good opportunity for myself. I’m looking at it as an opportunity. I’m not looking at it as something that’s bad. I’m looking at it as an opportunity.”
Of course, Williams will need to step up his game from last year, a disappointing 2019 season in which he didn’t exactly live up to his standards while with the Giants or crosstown rival New York Jets. The former provided the latter with a 2020 third-round pick and 2021 fifth-round pick in exchange for the one-time Pro Bowler as the deadline approached.
How Giants fans ultimately perceive the aforementioned deal will be somewhat based on how Williams performs in 2020. It’s essentially a “prove it” contract — if he doesn’t exceed or at least meet expectations, his Giants tenure could conclude after just 1.5 seasons.
But like the professional he is, Williams isn’t allowing the pressure to disrupt his mindset.
“I wouldn’t say I have something to prove necessarily,” Williams said. “I think the coaches know and my teammates know what I bring to the table or I wouldn’t be here. I definitely still feel like I’m playing with a chip on my shoulder at the same time, though. I’m ready to just go out here and play the best that I can. I’m not looking towards the future or next offseason or what’s going to happen a year from now.”
Focusing on the task at hand; a mentality Williams is following ahead of his sixth season in the NFL.