Leonard Williams

NFC East Rumors: Giants, Cooper, Jenkins

Baylor’s Matt Rhule is rumored to the be the Giantspreferred candidate, and although he turned down the Jets last year, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv notes the native New Yorker is expected to consider leaving the college ranks to coach the Giants. This and the soon-to-be-available Cowboys job might be the only ones Rhule would presently consider, per Vacchiano. Rhule, who spent 2012 as the Giants’ assistant offensive line coach, has drawn interest from the Panthers and Browns as well. The 44-year-old college coach plans to go on vacation soon after Wednesday night’s Sugar Bowl, but Vacchiano adds the Giants are expected to meet with him before he departs for said trip.

Mike McCarthy, however, may have the best shot at competing with Rhule for the job, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes. The former Super Bowl-winning Packers coach is believed to have gained steam, per Vacchiano. McCarthy is scheduled to meet with the Giants on Friday. He’s set to interview with the Browns on Thursday and has already met with the Panthers twice.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • In Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, the Cowboys have two of the league’s top free agents. Prescott is certainly not going anywhere and, despite the prospect of the team using its franchise tag on its quarterback, Cooper is not expected to reach the market, according to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter). Cooper continues to indicate Dallas is where he wants to be. The lack of a new collective bargaining agreement helps the Cowboys on this front, as they could use both their franchise and transition tags if no CBA is in place by March 10. However, to fully avoid the risk of losing one of these key players, the Cowboys would need to reach an extension with one of them before the March 10 franchise tag deadline. A wide receiver franchise tag is expected to cost just more than $18MM; a transition tag would come in at nearly $16MM.
  • Leonard Williams told Dave Gettleman he wants to stay with the Giants, according to the GM (via Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post). (Williams, however, has said he will hit free agency if the Giants don’t give him “top-tier money.”) The Giants made the strange move of trading two mid-round draft picks for the contract-year defensive end, and Gettleman said he wanted to get an up-close look at Williams in the Giants’ system. Of course, the Giants will likely have a new defensive system soon once a new head coach arrives.
  • Giants center Jon Halapio suffered another severe injury this season — a torn Achilles in Week 17 — but the team is expected to tender him in restricted free agency, per Dunleavy. Halapio suffered a broken leg in September 2018 but returned to start a career-high 15 games this season. The 28-year-old snapper is not expected to be ready until at least training camp. He underwent surgery Tuesday.
  • The Eagles‘ longtime safety tandem of Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod may break up in March, with the latter a free agent. But Jenkins is a rumored extension candidate, and Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com expects a re-up that would make Jenkins one of the NFL’s highest-paid safeties to occur soon (Twitter link). Jenkins, 32, would be a 2021 free agent. The Eagles have been busy with major extensions lately, coming to terms with Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson during the season.

Leonard Williams Prepared To Hit Free Agency

It sounds as though Giants DL Leonard Williams is prepared to hit free agency. As Darryl Slater of NJ.com writes, Williams said that if the Giants don’t offer him “top-tier money,” he is going to test the open market in 2020.

Williams’ feelings are certainly understandable. Big Blue is in the midst of a rebuild, and Williams — who was traded from the Jets to the Giants prior to this year’s trade deadline — is tired of losing. He has played in 11 games this year between the two clubs, and his team won just one of those games. Over the past three-plus seasons, Williams’ teams have gone 15-44, and he wants to play for a winner.

Of course, if the price is right, he may be willing to stomach a few more losses. “I know that I want to get a big contract, and I know that I am worth a lot,” Williams said. “If I don’t think [the Giants are] giving me what I think I’m worth, then obviously I think hitting free agency would make sense.”

Williams, whom the Jets selected with the No. 6 overall pick of the 2015 draft, concedes that his play does not merit Aaron Donald money, but he does not believe he is too far removed from Donald’s level. That suggests that he could be eyeing something like Grady Jarrett‘s recent four-year, $68MM ($38MM fully-guaranteed) deal with the Falcons.

The problem is that any of Williams’ potential suitors would need to believe that he can start converting his quarterback hits into more sacks before they pay him top dollar. He has 97 QB hits in his career, but he has just 17 sacks to show for it. He also has not made much of an impact in the running game, having recorded just one tackle for loss this season. Simply put, he looks like a solid starter who could become more if he is paired with a Pro Bowl-caliber talent on the defensive line.

When Giants GM Dave Gettleman swung the trade for Williams, it raised a few eyebrows given Williams’ status as a pending FA and New York’s status as a non-contender. Gettleman sent a third- and fifth-round draft choice to the Jets in the deal, picks that increase in value with each Giants loss. Plus, the fifth-rounder could become a fourth-rounder if Big Blue re-signs Williams. As Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post observes, Gettleman has shown an ability to cut his losses rather than compound mistakes, so it will be interesting to see if he is willing to move on from Williams rather than bank on his upside and potentially pay him more than he is worth.

The Giants have exclusive negotiating rights with Williams until March 16.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Deadline Fallout: Harris, Jets, L. Williams

Despite a great deal of hype, Tuesday’s trade deadline went out with a whimper. As Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, that was largely because the presumed sellers — most notably the Bengals, Redskins, and Broncos — overvalued their assets. It was expected that Cincinnati’s and Washington’s stubbornness could torpedo potential deals, but Denver was similarly obstinate. For instance, the Broncos were asking for a second-round draft pick for CB Chris Harris when the market dictated that a fourth-rounder would be an appropriate return.

Now for more deadline fallout:

  • Jets RB Le’Veon Bell recently said that his former club, the Steelers, were interested in re-acquiring him in advance of the trade deadline, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirms that Pittsburgh did indeed speak with the Jets about Bell. However, when it became clear that the shoulder injury that James Conner sustained in the Steelers’ win over Miami last Monday wasn’t as serious as it first appeared, talks with Gang Green cooled. Bell wasn’t the only RB the Steelers were interested in, per Schefter, but he was easily the most prominent.
  • At least one team tried to blow the Jets away with an offer for defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, as Schefter writes in a separate piece. The unnamed club thought New York would be unable to turn down the blockbuster package of draft picks, but Williams was deemed untouchable by the Jets’ front office, and Gang Green stuck to its guns.
  • We already heard that the Giants would try to work out a contract extension with the newly-acquired Leonard Williams, but Schefter says Big Blue will open negotiations before Thanksgiving. Of course, it could be difficult for player and team to agree on Williams’ value, and Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com believes that Williams is going to test free agency (Twitter link).
  • The Rams traded Aqib Talib to the Dolphins in a pure salary dump, as they gave Miami a 2020 fifth-rounder just to take on the remainder of Talib’s contract. Peter Schrager of the NFL Network says Talib believes he will be healthy enough to return to the field this season but is unsure as to whether he will suit up for Miami (Twitter link). He may elect to cool his heels before he hits the open market in March, but he holds no ill will towards LA.

New York Notes: Bell, Jets, Williams, Giants

On what turned out to be a slow deadline day, the Jets’ negotiations involving Jamal Adams turned out to be the top story. But more came out of New York this week. Here is the latest on the Jets and Giants, beginning with a key Jet that was not dealt:

  • Douglas says he did not shop Le’Veon Bell, but the first-year Jets GM did admit that he listened to offers for both stars (Twitter link via Brian Costello of the New York Post). The Jets were rumored to be shopping Anderson, and Adam Schefter of ESPN said during a Tuesday TV appearance the team was asking for a second-round for the contract-year wideout. Both Bell and Anderson are set to finish the season with the Jets.
  • The Jets‘ trade talks with the Giants started weeks ago, Douglas says (Twitter link via Manish Mehta of the Daily News). Remarkably, they managed to keep the rumors away from the New York tabloids before they pulled the trigger on the historic deal that sent Leonard Williams to the G-Men.
  • The Giants will obviously try to lock up Williams beyond his current deal, but no one can really agree on his value, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY writes. Some have speculated that Williams could land ~$100MM based on his age and potential. Others, meanwhile, think he’s looking at something closer to a deal worth $10-$12MM on an average annual basis. When and if a deal gets done, it could very well land in the middle, Vacchiano hears from execs, with a five-year, $75MM deal with about $20MM guaranteed.
  • Moving back to non-trade business, the Jets worked out a few notable veterans on Tuesday. Cornerbacks Trevor Williams and E.J. Gaines auditioned for Gang Green, with Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio noting (via Twitter) linebacker Ramik Wilson did as well. Williams has been with both the Cardinals and Chargers this year, while the Bills released Gaines via August injury settlement. A member of the Rams’ 2018 NFC champion squad, Wilson spent time with the Jaguars and Cards this year.

East Notes: Eagles, Haskins, Jets, Giants

With the Giants both buying and hoping to sell at this year’s deadline, after making their first trade with the Jets, here’s the latest from the NFC East with barely 24 hours remaining for 2019 trade talks:

  • Now that the Eagles are back at .500, they are considering being buyers before Tuesday afternoon’s trade deadline. After their double-digit win in Buffalo, the Eagles could be in play for “something fun” before this year’s deadline, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The Eagles have been linked to cornerbacks, being the Jalen Ramsey silver medalists, and may be in need at wide receiver. Although, Doug Pederson said DeSean Jackson is expected to practice this week.
  • Adrian Peterson may or may not have directly addressed Dwayne Haskins‘ performance issues with the rookie quarterback, with Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reporting the veteran Redskins running back told Haskins after Thursday night’s loss to study the playbook more thoroughly (video link). While not denying he went to Haskins directly, Peterson addressed the matter on Twitter by saying he believes in the first-round prospect. In two relief appearances, Haskins has thrown no touchdown passes and four interceptions this season.
  • The conditional 2021 fifth-rounder the Giants dealt to the Jets for Leonard Williams would become a fourth-rounder if the G-Men extend Williams before free agency, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes. While the Giants may have a wink-wink agreement in place with Williams, in order to sign him after the start of the 2020 league year to preserve that fourth-round pick, that’s far from certain — especially for a player who has struggled in recent years.
  • While the Giants acquired Williams, they are also looking unload Janoris Jenkins and Alec Ogletree.

Giants Shopping Janoris Jenkins, Alec Ogletree

The Giants might not be done dealing. Even after trading for Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams, the Giants are shopping cornerback Janoris Jenkins and linebacker Alec Ogletree, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. The Giants may also be open to trading tackle Nate Solder, RapSheet says, though we’ve heard conflicting word on that front over the last few days. 

Rumors have swirled about Jenkins’ status with the team for some time now and the club may finally be ready to part ways with him. For his part, Jackrabbit has been frustrated by the constant talk coupled with a lack of communication from the front office about his future. Through eight games, Jenkins has 35 total stops and an eye-popping four interceptions, showing that he’s still among the best corners in the NFL. Tomorrow, he’ll turn 31 years old, and he’ll be celebrating with a new group of friends if the Giants can find a suitable deal.

Ogletree, 28, entered the league as a first-round pick of the Rams. He didn’t impress in terms of the advanced metrics, but that wasn’t a turnoff for Dave Gettleman‘s front office. In March of 2018, they gave up some later-round draft capital to acquire Ogletree and his contract, which runs through 2021. Ogletree has started in all 19 of his games for the G-Men since then and has made some big plays, including five interceptions in 2018, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

The Browns could be one potential destination for Solder and many other contenders in need of tackles could also come calling. However, the Giants are reportedly nervous about switching up Daniel Jones‘ front line and may opt to keep him well protected for the rest of 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Trade Leonard Williams To Giants

We’ve got another major trade to report. The Jets are sending defensive lineman Leonard Williams to the Giants, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Per Schefter, the Jets are getting a third-round pick in next April’s draft, and a fifth-round pick in the 2021 draft. Fortunately for Williams he won’t have to move far, as the Jets are sending him to their crosstown rivals. Schefter soon added in a separate tweet that the fifth-round pick becomes a fourth-rounder if Williams signs a new deal with the G-Men before the start of the next league year. Schefter also reports that the Jets are paying $4MM of the $6MM that Williams is owed for the rest of 2019.

There have been murmurs about Williams getting traded, and something finally materialized. All the way back in January we heard the Jets were considering moving him, and hoping to get a second-round pick in return. Just yesterday, we passed along word that the Cowboys had been interested in Williams before trading for Michael Bennett, and there were apparently multiple other teams in the mix.

The USC product is in the final year of his deal, and the Jets wanted to get something for him while they still could. The third-rounder they’ll be getting from the Giants will presumably be an early third-rounder given their current record. The Giants being buyers at 2-6 and adding a rental player might seem odd, but they’ll presumably try and sign Williams to an extension now. He’ll slide in next to Dexter Lawrence, the Giants’ first-round rookie, on New York’s defensive line.

The sixth overall pick of the 2015 draft, Williams is still only 25. He made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and has shown that he’s capable of playing at a very high level. As NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano pointed out in a tweet, this is the first time that the Jets and Giants have ever made a trade, so it’s a historic day.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Called On Jets’ Leonard Williams

There are just a couple of days before the trade deadline, and the Jets could be busy. They’ve reportedly been taking calls on receiver Robby Anderson and defensive lineman Leonard Williams, and it sounds like they’re going to be sellers. We now have word on one of the teams that was interested in Williams, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that the Cowboys inquired.

However, Schefter writes that Dallas’ recent trade for Michael Bennett took them out of the running for the USC product. Schefter says New York has “heard from other teams,” so it sounds like they’ll be able to find a suitor if they want to. Williams has been the center of trade speculation in the past, and is in the final year of his contract. Back in January the Jets apparently thought about moving Williams, and were reportedly looking for at least a second-round pick in return.

Williams is still only 25, and will surely be looking for a big payday this offseason. If the Jets don’t get offered an early draft pick, they could decide to just hold onto him and hope to recoup a compensatory draft pick when he signs elsewhere. While the Jets seem to be shopping Anderson and Williams, they aren’t going to conduct a full-on fire sale. Schefter reports that multiple teams have inquired about safety Marcus Maye, but that they’ve been told he’s “not available.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Willing To Deal Anderson, Williams

Five days away from this year’s trade deadline, the Jets are ready to be sellers. Both Robby Anderson and Leonard Williams are available for the right price, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.

Both players are in the final years of their respective contracts, and the Jets are hoping to be sellers and add 2020 picks, per Mehta. Each Jets starter has surfaced in trade talks for a bit now, and the Jets tried to move Anderson before last year’s deadline. The Eagles were interested, but nothing materialized.

Williams is playing out a $14.2MM fifth-year option, while Anderson is attached to a second-round RFA tender worth $3.1MM. Neither is having a statistically productive season, though some of Anderson’s struggles can be traced to the Jets being without Sam Darnold for much of this season. Anderson led the past two Jet teams in receiving yards — 941 and 762, respectively — and produced a 125-yard game against the Cowboys in Darnold’s first game back. The deep threat will surely generate interest in the coming days.

The Jets have seen older wideouts produce strong trade returns this week. Anderson, 26, is four years younger than Mohamed Sanu and six years younger than Emmanuel Sanders. New York traded for Demaryius Thomas early in the season and has journeyman Josh Bellamy as an outside receiving option. With Anderson being a Mike Maccagnan-era investment, is is fair to assume he will not be in the now-Joe Douglas-run team’s plans after 2019.

The 2015 No. 6 overall pick, Williams has not recorded a sack this season and grades as Pro Football Focus’ No. 83 overall interior defender. Once rumored to be interested in extending Williams, the Jets are now reportedly seeking a package fronted by a third-round pick for the defensive end.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Williams, Patriots, Gronkowski

When asked whether defensive lineman Leonard Williams could be traded, Jets head coach Adam Gase didn’t exactly say no.

I really don’t deal in the hypothetical aspects,” Gase said (Twitter link via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano). “These guys get calls all year round about trades. Really to me that’s not something I’m going to be dealing with unless something’s on the table. I don’t know what other teams are thinking, but right now I like the way our guys are rolling. Anything’s possible, but I like the way our team is.”

Other teams, predictably, are interested in the former No. 6 overall pick. Meanwhile, it has been speculated that GM Joe Douglas could be willing to part with Williams for third- and fifth-round selections. If that’s the asking price, Williams might not be long for the New York/New Jersey area.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • During an appearance on WEEI, a caller asked former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski point blank if he would return to the NFL. “I’ll give an answer,” Gronkowski replied. “When I retired, I retired for a reason: because I needed to step away. So it would be a no. There it isI never say no, because I’ve said no, and everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, he’s kidding. He’s coming back.’ But it’s a no. In my mind, that’s how it is. It’s a no.” Sounds pretty definitive, but Pats owner Robert Kraft is far from convinced.
  • Ben Watson is back with the Patriots, in part because tight end Matt LaCosse is dealing with an MCL sprain (Twitter link via Mike Giardi of NFL.com). LaCosse played through the Giants game last Thursday night, but his availability for this week against the Jets is in doubt.
  • Speaking of Watson – his new, prorated one-year deal with the Patriots is worth $800K fully guaranteed, plus $140K in incentives (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). That’s a solid payday, considering that he already made $686K off of his original 2019 pact with the Pats.
  • Defensive tackle Steve McLendon’s one-year extension with the Jets is worth $3MM, with $1.65MM in new guarantees, per Pelissero.