Leonard Williams

Nick Gates, Jon Feliciano On Radar To Stay With Giants; Team Wants To Adjust Leonard Williams’ Deal

Nick Gates went from suffering a career-threatening injury to returning as a Giants starter, and the team has interest in keeping him on another contract.

The Giants have begun negotiations with the veteran interior offensive lineman, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post notes. Gates played out his two-year, $6.83MM extension. Both he and center Jon Feliciano are on the radar to stay. Feliciano, who was with GM Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll in Buffalo, signed a one-year, $3.25MM deal in March 2022.

[RELATED: Giants Prepared To Let Saquon Barkley Walk?]

A lower leg fracture in September 2021 ended Gates’ season, and then-HC Joe Judge mentioned the injury as being a potential career-ender for the former starting center. Displaying resilience and versatility, Gates worked his way back into a uniform by this past season’s midpoint. And the ex-center starter took over as a starting left guard soon after. Gates, 27, began sharing the gig with Ben Bredeson. The Giants have Bredeson under contract for 2023, via a 2021 trade, and still have 2022 draftees Joshua Ezeudu and Marcus McKethan on rookie deals.

Given the Giants’ guard situation and higher priorities in free agency, it is notable the team wants to work something out with Gates. Pro Football Focus graded Gates as a top-50 guard this year, slotting him a bit behind right guard Mark Glowinski, a former Colts starter who is signed through 2024. Feliciano being in the picture to stay is a bit more surprising, though his longstanding ties to the current regime certainly help. The 31-year-old blocker ranked outside the top 30 among full-time centers, per PFF, which graded Big Blue’s O-line 30th overall.

Considering the big-picture issues with Barkley, Daniel Jones and Julian Love, the Giants should be considered unlikely to sign off on big raises for Gates or Feliciano. Factoring in their spots as starters, however, Gates and Feliciano’s previous rates are a bit low.

A player whose paygrade checks in higher than most at his position also slots as a Giants offseason priority. Leonard Williams, who signed a three-year deal worth $63MM shortly after the Giants franchise-tagged him for a second time in March 2021, is going into a contract year. The Giants want to reduce his cap hit, with Dan Duggan of The Athletic noting (subscription required) Schoen will meet with the veteran D-lineman about doing so this week. Although void years could be tacked onto Williams’ deal to reduce his massive cap figure ($32.3MM — the most for any D-lineman in 2023), Duggan adds the team’s preferred path here is likely an extension.

The Giants extending Williams will be tricky. While it would reduce the former top-10 pick’s 2023 cap hit, the team also has a Dexter Lawrence extension on the agenda. Lawrence talks have begun, and the breakout D-tackle should be expected to top Williams’ $21MM-per-year price. With Jones set for a major raise and Barkley potentially back on either a franchise tag or an extension, the Giants will need to cut costs in some places. Williams also has seen his production dip since a big 2020 contract year, when he totaled 11.5 sacks and 30 QB hits. In 2022, the ex-Jet tallied 2.5 sacks and 12 QB hits. He only played in 12 games, however.

Giants DL Leonard Williams Considering Taking Pay Cut?

The Giants’ salary cap situation will be surrounded by question marks throughout the offseason until the futures of Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley become clearer. They face a number of important decisions on the defensive side of the ball as well, though, as they look to build off of their unexpected success in 2022.

Defensive lineman Leonard Williams still carried one of the highest cap hits in the league at his position this season, even after agreeing to a restructure in September which lowered his hit on the Giants’ cap sheet for 2022. As a result of that move, however, his cap hit is scheduled to more than double to $32.3MM in 2023, something which could lead to more adjustments being necessary.

The 28-year-old recently indicated that he would be open to the idea of taking a pay cut to help out New York’s financial situation (Twitter link via Connor Hughes of SNY). Specifically, a reduction in pay could help pave the way for a long-term extension for fellow d-lineman Dexter Lawrence. The latter is set to play on the fifth-year option (valued at $12.4MM) in 2023, but played himself into a considerable raise this season by setting career-highs across the board and earning Pro Bowl and Second Team All-Pro recognition.

Walking back his initial comments to a degree, Williams added a pay cut is “something I haven’t thought about yet, so it’s hard to answer right away,” and that he is “considering all possibilities” (h/t the New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy). Without any kind of adjustment, Williams is set to carry the third-highest cap hit in the NFL amongst non-quarterbacks entering the final year of his $63MM extension signed in March 2021.

“I definitely love this team and I want to be here,” Williams added, via Dunleavy. On the other hand, he also said of his contract situation that, “I try to let things like that play out. “I believe the plan is the plan and things are going to work out the way they work out. I did my best this year. I fought through injuries and played my hardest. I’m sure I’ll end up somewhere, if not here. I want to play as long as possible.”

The former Jets first-rounder had his least productive full campaign with the Giants in 2022, a season in which he missed time due to an MCL sprain. He also played through a neck injury at the end of the campaign, though he said surgery is not currently expected to be required during the offseason. In the coming weeks, his financial future will be worth watching as the Giants navigate a pivotal stretch.

Kayvon Thibodeaux To Make Giants Debut

The Giants managed to win their first two games without both their starting outside linebackers. They will have an improved defensive lineup against the Cowboys on Monday night.

Azeez Ojulari and No. 5 overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux are active for the Giants. This comes after Thibodeaux managed three limited practices leading up to the NFC East matchup. An MCL sprain sustained during the preseason led to Thibodeaux not beginning his Giants regular-season run on time. Leonard Williams, who suffered an MCL sprain in Week 2, is inactive.

A year ago, Thibodeaux was viewed as a possible No. 1 overall pick. The Oregon pass rusher’s stock dipped slightly during the pre-draft period, leading to rumors he could endure a bit of a draft-night fall. The Giants prevented that from happening, selecting him with the first of their two first-round choices. The Thibodeaux-Ojulari pairing will be, investment-wise, easily the team’s top edge-rushing duo since Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon.

After trading JPP in 2018 and Vernon in 2019, the Giants took an unusually minimalistic approach at this premium position. The team passed on using premium draft capital on the spot in 2019 or 2020, despite an apparent glaring need, and saw its edge production suffer during Markus Golden‘s abbreviated 2020 slate (before an in-season trade sent him back to Arizona). Ojulari, however, made an impact as a rookie second-rounder last season, registering eight sacks. Ojulari, who missed time with a calf injury, will now team with one of the highest-profile defensive investments in Giants history.

Thibodeaux, who will not turn 22 until December, posted 19 sacks in three Ducks seasons. Attitude- and work ethic-based concerns led to the slight draft drop, below edges Travon Walker and Aidan Hutchinson. The 6-foot-5 outside linebacker will have a chance to prove himself as a pro beginning in a nationally televised spot. The Giants had used former third-round pick Oshane Ximines and ex-Don Martindale Ravens charge Jihad Ward as their edge starters over the first two weeks.

Giants DT Leonard Williams Sprains MCL

After getting knocked out of yesterday’s win over the Panthers, Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams underwent an MRI and other tests to determine how much time this injury would cost him, according to Josh Alper of NBC Sports. The results indicate that Williams suffered a sprained MCL, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. 

Following the game, Williams spoke with the media and informed them that “he did not think the injury was a serious one.” While he is expected to miss some time, the resounding conclusion is that the Giants and their veteran lineman avoided a serious setback. Head coach Brian Daboll told the media that it was “better than it could be.”

While New York has seen a few injuries to the top end of its defensive line, this latest ailment might not be the worst timing. The team was without recent high draft picks Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux, who was drafted fourth-overall this year, in their first two games of the season. Fortunately for the Giants, both Ojulari and Thibodeaux have been practicing and are expected to be available this week as New York looks to improve to 3-0 in a Monday night matchup with the division-rival Cowboys.

If Ojulari and Thibodeaux aren’t able to fill in completely for Williams, the Giants will look to former-Ravens defenders Jihad Ward and Justin Ellis, veteran Nick Williams, rookie fifth-round pick D.J. Davidson, and undrafted rookie Tomon Fox to fill out the defensive line and pass rushing group.

Giants Restructure DL Leonard Williams’ Contract

New Giants GM Joe Schoen said he wanted to avoid cutting into future salary cap space, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post notes, but the team went through with a Leonard Williams restructure to comply with the 2022 cap.

The team redid the veteran defensive lineman’s deal, according to The Athletic’s Dan Duggan (on Twitter). This move created $11.92MM in 2022 cap space, Field Yates of ESPN.com adds (via Twitter). It also created a monster Williams 2023 cap number and pushed money to 2024, despite the former top-10 pick only being signed through next season.

By shifting $17.88MM of Williams’ 2022 base salary into a signing bonus, the Giants spread out his cap hit through 2024. A void year became necessary to do this. As a result, Williams is on New York’s 2023 cap at $32.26MM. That new number is currently slated to rank 12th in the NFL next year. Nine of the 11 players slated to have larger cap hits than Williams next year are quarterbacks. Williams’ previous 2022 cap hit ($27.3MM) had ranked fourth among defenders. It has since dropped to $15.4MM, but it comes with a future cost.

Williams, 28, maximized his value by signing a three-year, $63MM extension in March 2021, shortly after being franchise-tagged for the second time. Despite being well under .500 at the 2019 trade deadline, the Giants acquired the former Jets top-10 pick in exchange for two draft choices. They franchise-tagged Williams in 2020, and the USC product came through with his best season — an 11.5-sack year with 30 quarterback hits. In 2021, Williams recorded 6.5 sacks with 14 QB hits.

Prior to this restructure, the Giants could have cut Williams in 2023 and saved $18MM. Now, even with a post-June 1 cut designation, there would be $14MM in dead money that came with a Williams release. If the Giants do not extend Williams before the start of the 2024 league year, they would still be hit with $5.96MM in dead money thanks to the void year.

This is not the first major cap-related adjustment the Giants have made this year. Most notably, they held onto James Bradberry for several weeks before finally cutting him. Bradberry soon signed with the Eagles. Big Blue had listened on Saquon Barkley trade inquiries ahead of the Bradberry decision. Come 2023, the Giants will be in a better cap situation compared to the one Schoen inherited. The team will hold more than $49MM in cap space, though that figure (currently fifth in the NFL) will change as the team makes additional moves ahead of the ’23 league year.

Largest 2022 Cap Hits: Defense

After looking at this year’s top salary cap numbers on the offensive side of the ball, here is a rundown of the players counting the most toward their teams’ payrolls in 2022.

As could be expected, the salary figures here start below the quarterbacks. A few pass rushers, however, are tied to notable cap hits. Those numbers that check in within the top 20 leaguewide regardless of position. With the exception of true nose tackles and pure slot cornerbacks, every defensive position is represented here.

Here are the top cap figures on the defensive side for the ’22 season:

  1. T.J. Watt, OLB (Steelers): $31.12MM
  2. Chris Jones, DT (Chiefs): $29.42MM
  3. Joey Bosa, OLB (Chargers): $28.25MM
  4. Leonard Williams, DL (Giants): $27.3MM
  5. Aaron Donald, DT (Rams): $27MM
  6. Jalen Ramsey, CB (Rams): $23.2MM
  7. Deion Jones, LB (Falcons): $20.1MM
  8. Bud Dupree, OLB (Titans): $19.2MM
  9. Justin Simmons, S (Broncos): $18.85MM
  10. Javon Hargrave, DT (Eagles): $17.8MM
  11. C.J. Mosley, LB (Jets): $17.5MM
  12. Cameron Heyward, DL (Steelers): $17.42MM
  13. Robert Quinn, DE (Bears): $17.14MM
  14. Matt Judon, OLB (Patriots): $16.5MM
  15. DeForest Buckner, DT (Colts): $16MM
  16. Shaquill Griffin, CB (Jaguars): $16.44MM
  17. Tre’Davious White, CB (Bills): $16.4MM
  18. J.J. Watt, DL (Cardinals): $15.9MM
  19. Marcus Peters, CB (Ravens): $15.5MM
  20. Carl Lawson, DE (Jets): $15.33MM
  21. Eddie Jackson, S (Bears): $15.1MM
  22. Lavonte David, LB (Buccaneers): $14.79MM
  23. Budda Baker, S (Cardinals): $14.78MM
  24. Romeo Okwara, DE (Lions): $14.5MM
  25. Trey Hendrickson, DE (Bengals): $14.49MM
  • Illustrating how much the cap has climbed over the past several seasons, T.J. Watt is tied to a number nearly twice that of J.J. Watt, who has been tied to $16.7MM-per-year (a defender-record number in 2014) and $14MM-AAV deals as a pro. Trailing his older brother in Defensive Player of the Year honors, T.J. is signed to an edge defender-record $28MM-per-year accord.
  • Jones’ four-year Chiefs deal vaults from an $8.5MM cap number in 2021 to the league’s second-highest defensive figure this year. The standout defensive tackle’s cap hit accompanies Patrick Mahomes‘ $35.79MM number, which is well north of his 2021 figure, on Kansas City’s new-look payroll.
  • After two franchise tags, Williams scored a monster extension in 2021. The well-paid Giants D-lineman’s cap number this year is way up from his 2021 number ($9.4MM).
  • The Rams redid Donald’s contract last month, adding no new years to the through-2024 pact. The all-world defender’s cap hit actually decreases in 2023, dropping to $26MM
  • It is not certain Deion Jones will be back with the Falcons, who have jettisoned other Super Bowl LI cornerstones from the roster since the current regime took over in 2021. But they would save just $1MM were they to release the seventh-year linebacker.
  • To date, this represents the high-water mark for Mosley cap hits on his Jets deal, which at the time (2019) began a sea change for off-ball linebacker contracts. Mosley’s cap hit, on a pact that runs through 2024 because of the linebacker opting out of the 2020 season, increased by $10MM from 2021-22.
  • Hargrave is one of five Eagles pass rushers signed to veteran contracts. The ex-Steeler’s 2021 deal accompanies Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Haason Reddick, and Fletcher Cox‘s new agreement on Philadelphia’s defensive front. As cap hits do not reflect average salaries, Hargrave is the only member of this quartet tied to an eight-figure cap number in 2022.
  • Quinn has also been connected to a departure, with the 31-year-old pass rusher skipping minicamp after it became known he would like to be traded away from the rebuilding team. His cap hit tops the Bears’ payroll. The Bears would save $12.9MM by trading Quinn, should another team sign up for taking on his full 2022 base salary.

Giants’ Leonard Williams To Miss Time

Giants defensive end Leonard Williams suffered an elbow injury on Sunday (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Williams is still having tests done, but he’ll miss multiple games at the very least. 

The Giants are 4-9 on the year, so they have little reason to rush their high-priced edge rusher back to the field. Williams remains under contract through 2023 on the three-year, $63MM pact he signed back in March. That contract will see his cap number jump from its current $9.4MM to $27.3MM next year.

In one of the more interesting moves of the offseason, the Giants gave Williams a second franchise tag prior to reaching that big-money extension. He had certainly earned himself the longer-term investment and raise: in 16 games in 2020, he broke out with 11.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.

The 27-year old was enjoying another productive season with the Giants, registering 62 tackles and 5.5 sacks along with one forced fumble. He had started all 13 games this year, but according to Rapoport, “there is a chance he doesn’t return [in 2021]”.

In Williams’ absence, the Giants will have some shuffling to do along the defensive line. Alongside Dexter Lawrence and Austin Johnson, options to see an uptick in snaps include free agent signing Danny Shelton and undrafted rookie Raymond Johnson.

The Giants will host the Cowboys in Week 15 in an attempt to get out of the basement in the NFC East.




NFL Contract Details: Jones, Floyd, Williams, QBs

Some assorted contract details from around the NFL:

  • RB Aaron Jones, Packers: Four years, $48MM, including $20MM over first two years. $7MM roster bonus in 2023. Owed $16MM in 2023 and $12MM in 2024. Via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero on Twitter.
  • LB Leonard Floyd, Rams: Four years, $64MM, including $32.5MM guaranteed. $14MM signing bonus. Salaries: $2MM (2021, fully guaranteed), $16.5MM (2022, fully guaranteed), $15.5MM (2023), $16MM (2024). Via Pelissero on Twitter.
  • DE Leonard Williams, Giants: Three years, $63MM, including $45MM. $22.5MM signing bonus. Salaries: $3.5MM (2021, fully guaranteed), $19MM (2022, fully guaranteed), $18MM (2023). Cap charges: $11MM (2021), $26.5MM (2022), $25.5MM (2023). Via Manish Mehta on Twitter.
  • QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Washington: One year, $10MM, including $6MM guaranteed. Max value of $12MM. $6MM signing bonus. $3MM base salary, $1MM per-game roster bonuses. Up to $2MM in incentives. Via Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post on Twitter.
  • QB Jacoby Brissett, Dolphins: One year, $5MM, including $2.5MM guaranteed. $2.5MM signing bonus, up to $2.5MM in incentives. Via Pelissero on Twitter.
  • QB Andy Dalton, Bears: One year, $10MM. $7MM signing bonus, $3MM base salary, up to $3MM in incentives. Via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle on Twitter.
  • LB Carl Lawson, Jets: Three years, $45MM, including $30MM guaranteed. $1MM signing bonus. Salaries: $6.2MM (2021, plus $7.8MM roster bonus), $15MM (2022), $15MM (2023). Cap charges: $14.3MM (2021), $15.3MM (2022), $15.3MM (2023). Up to $800K in sack incentives each year. Via Mehta on Twitter.

Giants, Leonard Williams Agree To Extension

The Giants will free up some cap space and lock down one of their top players. Given the franchise tag for the second straight year, Leonard Williams reached an agreement on an extension Tuesday.

Williams will sign a three-year, $63MM accord to stay with the Giants, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. While Dalvin Tomlinson departed for Minnesota, the Giants will retain their top defensive line playmaker. Williams did incredibly well on this $21MM-per-year deal; $45MM of the pact is fully guaranteed, per Rapoport.

GM Dave Gettleman confused most by acquiring Williams at the 2019 trade deadline, and the former Jets first-round pick did not impress in his first half-season as a Giant. After a sackless first eight games, however, Williams broke through after being tagged last year. The former top-10 draftee produced his best season, registering 11.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss and 30 quarterback hits.

This deal both locks Williams into a price he was not especially close to as a Jet and will allow him a chance to approach free agency again while in his prime. The Giants and Williams were not close on a deal last year, and he played the season at the $16.1MM defensive tackle tag price. Going into last year’s franchise tag deadline, the Giants were not ready to give Williams an extension that averaged what that tag paid. A year later, the 26-year-old defender acquired tremendous leverage and used it to cash in.

Although the Giants did a few Eli Manning deals and constructed Odell Beckham Jr.s current contract, Joel Corry of CBS Sports notes this is the most fully guaranteed money they have handed out (Twitter link). Tuesday’s agreement will vault Williams onto the top tier of D-line contracts. After his breakthrough Giants contract year, the USC alum matches DeForest Buckner as the second-highest-paid interior defender. Only Aaron Donald ($22.5MM AAV) comes in above Williams now. And Williams’ $45MM full guarantee surpasses Buckner’s mark.

The Giants entered the tampering period with Williams tethered to a $19.4MM tag, so this should free up some much-needed cap space for the team to pursue free agents. Despite losing Tomlinson, the Giants have a talented defensive line core still in place. Both Dexter Lawrence and B.J. Hill remain on their rookie deals, with Austin Johnson agreeing to return on a low-cost accord Monday.

Latest On Giants, Leonard Williams

There hasn’t been much progress between the Giants and Leonard Williams yet, according to Dan Duggan of The Athletic (on Twitter). Ideally, the Giants would like to hammer out a deal before the start of the tampering period on Monday. 

A new deal for Williams could reduce his 2021 cap hit, giving the Giants some sorely needed flexibility with the reduced cap. As it stands, Williams is set to earn $19.35MM in 2021, a 20% pay raise over last year’s franchise tag.

[RELATED: Giants Want To Re-Sign Tomlinson]

Last year’s tag raised a lot of eyebrows; Williams responded by dropping jaws. In 2020, he posted a career-high 11.5 sacks, plus 14 total tackles for loss and 30 quarterback hits. Now, Williams is looking for a long-term deal to match his performance. That’ll likely cost around ~$20MM per annum.

The Giants have until mid-July to work out a long-term deal with Williams, but they have an increased sense of urgency with free agency on the horizon. The Giants want to go shopping for help at wide receiver, edge rusher, and other key positions, but they don’t want to do it on a shoestring budget. In turn, Williams’ camp has been happy to slow-play negotiations.

The extra room would also help the Giants to retain their own free agents, including fellow defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson. Tomlinson graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 25-ranked interior defender in 2020. Now, he’s in line for multi-year deal worth $8MM-$10MM per season.