The NFL trade season is upon us, and one name that consistently echoed in the corridors was defensive lineman Leonard Williams. Just one day before the deadline the Seattle Seahawks have acquired the Daytona Beach native from the New York Giants. Given the Jacksonville Jaguars need for a pass rusher, maybe they should've made an effort to pursue him.
Williams' current contract scenario is a matter of great interest in the NFL trade market. The defensive lineman has been tied to a three-year, $63 million contract, now entering its final year. Williams is an all-pot pass rusher that would've fit the 3-4 scheme the Jaguars use. He played high school football at Mainland High in Daytona Beach, not far from Jacksonville and less than a mile from the Daytona Speedway, a potential host for the Jaguars in 2024-2025.
Williams' performance has been a mixed bag. After a stellar 2020 season where he recorded 11.5 sacks, his performance in 2023 has been less than impressive, with only 1.5 sacks this year. However, his potential and past performances cannot be ignored. Williams has proven his ability to impact the field significantly. In the Jaguars system under Doug Peterson, Willams could have been elected the new “Mayor of Sacksonville”, a position that’s been vacant since Calais Campbell’s departure.
Williams was drafted sixth overall in 2015, the Jaguars wasted their third overall pick that year on Dante Fowler Jr., passing on Williams. The pick was highly scrutinized at the time, especially with Fowler’s immediate injury. The Jags had a chance at rectifying this blunder but ultimately opted not to. Several teams reportedly made a play for Williams and it's fair to wonder if Jacksonville was one of them.
The Jaguars could have benefited from bolstering their defensive line. A Williams-caliber player could provide the necessary strength and stability to their defense. They have been linked to Chase Young, Nick Bosa, and Danielle Hunter to fill the void in their pass-rush defense.
Why trading for Leonard Williams made sense for the Jacksonville Jaguars
Williams' experience and proven track record make him a viable, valuable, and ideal option for the Jaguars keen on improving their defensive performance.
Then there's the money aspect. The financial implications of the trade Williams cannot be understated. His contract is valued at $32.4 million for the current season. However, the Jaguars could've restructured their contract or negotiated a pay cut to fit their salary cap. Simply put, they would've been able to afford him.
It's possible that the Giants traded Williams to free up cap space and it was a bit surprising to see him have a market despite his hefty contract. Then again, the Seahawks are 5-2 and in first place in the NFC West. By acquiring Williams, they can solidify their chances of winning their division and making a playoff push.
All things considered, Williams would've been a great fit with the Jacksonville Jaguars. On the bright side, they still have a few enticing options if they're still interested in making a trade before the deadline.