Grading the Leonard Williams Trade: Seahawks Bolster Defensive Line With Deal

Leonard Williams has long been one of the better interior rushers in the NFL. But was he worth the draft capital that the Seahawks spent on him?

After a relatively quiet penultimate trade deadline day, the New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks made a deal. The Giants traded Leonard Williams to the Seahawks. Let’s run through the details of the deal and grade the trade for both teams.

Grading the Leonard Williams Trade From Giants to Seahawks

John Schneider is no stranger to making moves for high-caliber veterans in the trade market. The Giants needed cap space and are clearly not contending in 2023, so adding a piece from their bloated defensive line was a nice pull.

MORE: 2023 NFL Trade Deadline News and Rumors

Joe Schoen got a 2024 second-round pick and a 2025 fifth-round pick for Williams, who is in the final year of his deal. There’s a decent chance that second-round pick falls inside of the top 50 picks in the 2024 NFL Draft, which may be the strongest class we’ve seen in recent memory.

Giants Receive Unbelievable Capital for a Rental

Considering the next nine games were going to be Williams’ last with the Giants, receiving a second and fifth-round pick in return seems like an incredibly generous offer.

But what’s even more shocking about this deal is the compensation New York received from the Seahawks is more than what they originally gave up for Williams four years ago when he was 25.

He was his most productive in that first full season with the Giants. But his production since then has dropped consistently. And while New York’s defensive line has improved throughout that time, that knife cuts both ways. He simultaneously has better matchups while getting some production snatched away by his teammates.

The Giants were no longer dependent upon Williams. Dexter Lawrence is the alpha on that defensive line, and Kayvon Thibodeaux is starting to get into a groove on the edge. Whether or not Azeez Ojulari returns is of no consequence because no matter what, the defensive front will not be the weak link of that defense, and this team doesn’t have a dream of competing in 2023.

Grade: A+

Seattle Smells Blood

For all the … interesting … decisions that Schneider has made in the NFL Draft over the years, he has always worked to improve his roster through the trade market. The move comes after the Seahawks added Frank Clark in free agency.

Uchenna Nwosu was dominating against the run before his season-ending injury. That production was after having easily his best season ever as a pass rusher in his first year with Seattle.

Boye Mafe has emerged as a legitimate rushing threat on the edge in 2023. The athletic phenom has undergone impressive technical improvements since his time in college. After a disappointing rookie season, his stock is pointing almost vertically.

But in reality, the Seattle defensive front must simply complement their incredibly talented defensive backfield. Devon Witherspoon has been magnificent for them as a rookie. Meanwhile, Riq Woolen and Jamal Adams have returned to the field fully healthy.

And the Seahawks almost certainly smelled blood in the NFC West waters. The 49ers have imploded over the past three weeks. Their young quarterback caught a whiff of adversity three weeks ago, and it has stuck to him like poison oak since.

MORE: Seattle Seahawks Depth Chart

But it’s been the 49ers defense that is even more troubling. Since their emphatic performance against the Cowboys in Week 5, the 49ers defense has been underwhelming. They’ve been a bottom-third team in EPA over that time.

Seattle isn’t interested in a Wild Card birth. They want to win the NFC West, and they’re not afraid to mortgage their future for a division title in 2023.

But a second-round pick in 2024 and a fifth-round pick in 2025 is a lot to give up for a rental. Making this deal practically guarantees that a long-term deal gets done between the two because that is simply too much to give up for a 10-game return.

It’s not like Seattle is in great shape regarding their future cap, either. They’re just slightly positive for 2024 as things stand today, and they’re toward the bottom of the list for 2025 at the moment.

It’s a hefty price to pay, no matter the outcome.

Grade: B-

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