SEATTLE – A day before the NFL trade deadline the Seahawks made a big move, acquiring veteran defensive tackle Leonard Williams from the New York Giants for two future draft picks.
Both teams officially announced Monday afternoon that Seattle will send a 2024 second-round pick and a 2025 fifth-round pick for Williams.
The 29-year-old Williams is in the final season of a three-year, $63 million deal signed in March 2021 and can become a free agent at the end of the 2023 season.
Williams has an $18 million base salary for this season and a cap hit of just over $32 million.
ESPN reported that “the expectation is that the Giants are taking on all or most of the $10 million owed to Williams” for the rest of this season. OvertheCap.com speculated that the Seahawks may pay as little as $657,000 — a pro-rated share of the league minimum veteran base salary — to Williams for the rest of this season with the Giants picking up the rest.
The NFL Network reported that Seattle got the Giants to take on more of the financial hit for the 2023 season in exchange for higher draft compensation in trade.
The Seahawks entered the day with $7.6 million in remaining camp space for the 2023 season, via OvertheCap.com.
Williams also has a cap hit of $5.96 million for the 2024 season as a void year on his contract. It was not immediately clear if Seattle will rework his contract to keep him with the team beyond 2023.
Williams, who was the sixth overall pick of the 2015 draft by the New York Jets out of USC, made the Pro Bowl in 2016 while with the Jets and has long been considered one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL.
Williams has 1.5 sacks and 21 tackles in eight games this season.
Williams will add to an interior front that has already been considered a strength for Seattle this season with the offseason additions of free agents Jarran Reed and Dre’Mont Jones.
Reed and Jones have played well but have also had to play a lot so far this season — and Seattle has already had its bye and has 10 games in the final 10 weeks of the regular season without a break.
Reed has played 65.3% of all defensive snaps so far and Jones 64.1% with end Mario Edwards playing almost 40% of snaps.
Adding Williams should allow the Seahawks to rotate more freely inside now.
Coach Pete Carroll had been asked on his weekly radio show Monday morning on Seattle Sports 710 if the team might be active at the trade deadline.
“Always competing,” Carroll said. “We’re always competing. If there’s a chance to do something we’re always available.”
Pro Football Focus has Williams with an above-average pass rush grade of 77.2 for this season but an average run defense grade of 59.4.
He has played 360 snaps this season, 221 as a pass rusher, via PFF and has two sacks and 16 hurries via PFF’s charting.
The Seahawks were due to have eight picks in the 2024 draft — their own in all seven rounds as well as an extra one in the third round due to a trade with Denver during the 2023 draft, which is the later of either Denver’s original pick or a pick Denver got from New Orleans as part of acquiring Sean Payton as coach.
The trade deadline is 1 p.m. PT Tuesday.
Seattle’s big move comes a day after the Seahawks beat Cleveland 24-20 to improve to 5-2 and move into first place in the NFC West ahead of slumping 49ers, who lost their third straight game to fall to 5-3.
The win also moved Seattle into the second seed in the NFC behind only the 7-1 Philadelphia Eagles. Seattle would move down to third if Detroit beats the visiting Raiders on Monday night and improves to 6-2.
Seattle has the head-to-head tiebreaker on the Lions thanks to a 37-31 overtime win in Detroit in Week 2.
Pro Football Focus wrote in its assessment of the trade that signing Williams to an extension may not be overly easy.
“Williams has already been franchise-tagged twice in his career, which effectively makes him untaggable this upcoming offseason,” wrote PFF. “This provides Williams with maximum leverage over the Seahawks on a new deal unless they’re comfortable sending out a second- and a fifth-round pick for a half-season rental — not the most prudent investment. Williams’ three-year, $63 million extension with the Giants was one of the most player-friendly deals of the past several years, and he’s in line for another strong contract soon.”