Leonard Williams had an idea Jets were going to trade him
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Sitting in his New Jersey home at the start of the week, Leonard Williams knew the New York Jets were thinking about dealing the Pro Bowl defensive lineman by the trade deadline.
The move came Monday and covered less than 25 miles. It was from the Jets’ training facility in Florham Park to the Giants’ practice fields in East Rutherford, where the teams are co-tenets of MetLife Stadium.
“I wasn’t totally caught off-guard,” Williams said Wednesday after his first practice with the Giants. “I prepared myself emotionally if I was staying or if I was going.”
The Giants sent a third-round pick in 2020 to the Jets and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2021 for the fifth-year player who was the sixth pick overall in the 2015 draft.
If the 25-year-old Williams signs with the Giants (2-6) before reaching free agency, the fifth-round pick becomes a fourth-rounder.
“I definitely didn’t think it would be the Giants,” Williams said. “My agent (AJ Vaynerchuk) called me to tell me it was the Giants. I figured that if I had to get traded, then I was glad it was the Giants. It’s my privilege to play for this organization. It was a long day and an emotional day for me. I’m grateful for the chance. It’s going to be an easy transition. I don’t have to worry about moving or who’s going to watch my dogs. I can just come down the street and play football.”
Williams is in the final year of a four-year, $18.6 million contract. The Jets are paying $4 million of the remaining $6 million on Williams’ contract this year, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press.
Williams has 17 sacks and 240 total tackles in his four-plus years in the NFL. He was selected for the Pro Bowl in 2017.
Giants coach Pat Shurmur was thrilled to welcome Williams for Monday’s night home game against the Dallas Cowboys (4-3).
“We’ve added an outstanding player who plays hard all the time,” said Shurmur, whose team has lost four straight. “From what I’ve heard, he’s a great guy and a great teammate. Any time you can add a player of Leonard’s quality, you’re thrilled.”
Shurmur believes Williams can play this weekend either as a defensive tackle, a defensive end or a nose tackle.
“We have an extra day of practice to get him up and raring to go,” Shurmur said. “He’s played on the center. He’s played on the guard and he’s played on the tackle. He’s even played on the tight end. He has great length and uses his hands well. I don’t see why he won’t play a lot. We want to get him up to speed as quick as possible, but he’ll be in the rotation (on the defensive line) immediately. We brought him in to play with us. I liked him as a player before we brought him in. It’s a good deal for us.”
After practice, Williams seemed to be getting along well with his new teammates. He walked off the field clowning around with rookie defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence.
“You can see that he wants to be here,” Lawrence said. “He’s going to fit in well with us. I’m going to take him in and help him out. We can play with each other and see how it goes. We’ll take pressure off each other. He has a high motor going to the ball. He was out there today like he’s been here all his life.”
Williams said he was open to discussing a new contract with the Giants.
“It’s definitely something I have to think about,” Williams said. “But I’m not thinking about anything with my contract yet. I’m assuming something will be talked about.”
NOTES: The Giants will face the Jets on Nov. 10. “The Jets and Giants don’t play each other often,” Williams said. “I’m sure I’ll try to treat it as a normal game.” ... Giants WR Sterling Shepard remains sidelined with a concussion. .Shurmur said the team had not decided whether to recall DB Sam Beal off the injured reserve list. The Giants have until next week to decide whether to bring him back or leave him on the injured list for the remainder of the season.
AP Pro Football Writer Dennis Waszak Jr. contributed to this report.