EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Defensive tackle Leonard Williams has signed a three-year contract to remain with the Giants.
In doing so, the Giants have secured the multi-year services of one of their most productive players and grant themselves salary cap relief.
Last week, for the second consecutive year, the team placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on Williams, who had the finest season of his six-year career as the Giants' most dominant defender in 2020. Without a multi-year agreement, Williams' 2021 salary would be a calculation based on the average of the top five salaries from his position or 120% of his previous year's salary, whichever is greater.
In 2020, Williams, 26, led the team and was seventh in the NFL with 11.5 sacks, the highest total by a Giants player since Jason Pierre-Paul's 14.5 in 2014. No other Giants defender had more than 4.0 sacks. Williams' previous high total was 7.0 sacks in 2016. He had just one half-sack in 2019.
In addition, Williams was third in the NFL with 30 quarterback hits and tied for sixth with 14 tackles for loss. Williams was fifth on the Giants with 57 tackles (29 solo).
In the season's final five weeks, Williams was twice named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
He was first honored following the Giants' 17-12 defeat of the NFC West champion Seahawks in Seattle on Dec. 6. Williams tied his then career high with 2.5 sacks – all in the second half – for 25.5 yards and was credited with five of the Giants' 10 pressures of Russell Wilson. In the third quarter, Williams sacked Wilson for a 15-yard loss to help force a Seattle punt. Midway through the fourth quarter, Williams teamed with Jabaal Sheard for a 5-yard sack. And with the Seahawks trying to drive for the go-ahead touchdown, Williams sacked Wilson for a 10-yard loss on third down with 48 seconds remaining, all but ending Seattle's chances to win the game.
The NFL again cited Williams following the Giants' season-ending 23-19 victory against Dallas on Jan. 3. In that game, he had a season-high seven tackles (five solo), a career-best 3.0 sacks for 20 yards, five quarterback hits and two critical pressures in the Giants' 23-19 victory. With 1:53 remaining, the Cowboys had a first-and-goal at the Giants' 7-yard line when Williams sacked Andy Dalton for a 10-yard loss. Two plays later, on third down from the 17, Williams pressured Dalton into throwing a pass that floated into the end zone, where rookie safety Xavier McKinney made a game-saving interception.
Williams, the sixth overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Jets, was acquired by the Giants on Oct. 29, 2019 for a third-round selection in the 2020 draft and a fifth rounder this year.
Williams, 6-5 and 302 pounds, has played in 95 career games with 87 starts for the Jets and Giants. His career totals include 323 tackles (164 solo), 29.0 sacks, 131 quarterback hits, 48 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, seven passes defensed and one interception.
View photos of defensive lineman Leonard Williams.