Leonard Williams can read between the lines of a trade.
The Jets determined he was not worth their continued investment, after he failed to live up to the expectations that come with being the No. 6 pick in the NFL draft.
The Giants – who traded two draft picks to the Jets to get Williams on the final year of his contract – risked looking very foolish if he doesn’t re-sign beyond this season. Williams, though, would consider re-signing if offered an extension before testing the open market in March.
“I’d definitely be open to it if it comes up,” Williams said. “Whether it’s with the Giants or whoever, I have to keep playing. It’s an audition still.”
Williams, 25, is making $14.2 million on his fifth-year rookie option. The Giants only owe him about $2 million of his remaining $6 million salary as part of the trade that sent a third-round pick in 2020 and a fifth-rounder in 2021 to the Jets. He is expected to command about $10 million per year on his next multi-year deal.
At 2-6 and headed nowhere in 2019, the Giants could’ve kept their picks and pursued Williams in free agency.
“I got drafted there and they didn’t want to keep me,” Williams said Wednesday of the Jets after his first practice with the Giants, “but this team definitely showed interest and wanted to go out of their way to get me over here. I think it speaks volumes. I have to prove to them why they should want me here.”
Because the Giants played their hand by trading for Williams with no insurance he will re-sign, Williams has the leverage in negotiations. If Williams is re-signed before free agency begins, the fifth-round pick in 2021 would bump up to a fourth-rounder.
“My versatility is actually something the coaches talked about that they were exciting about having me here. They have seen me play nose, three-technique, defensive end stand-up. I’m still getting comfortable with this new defense. As soon as that starts to happen, I’ll get in my groove.”
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