Leonard Austin Williams, popularly known as Leonard Williams, was born On June 20, 1994. He is an American football defensive end who currently competes in the NFL as a member of the Seattle Seahawks.
He initiated his NFL journey as the sixth overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, being drafted by the New York Jets.
Before making his name in the NFL, Leonard developed his skills and nurtured his love for the sport as he played college football at the University of Southern California (USC).
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Leonard Williams’s Early years
Williams was a student at Mainland High School located in Daytona Beach, Florida, where he showcased his athleticism in both football and track.
During his senior year, he made a significant impact on the football field, amassing an impressive 103 tackles and securing 10.5 sacks.
His exceptional performance was pivotal in Mainland’s journey to the FHSAA 6A state semi-finals, although they ultimately fell to Miami Central with a score of 7-17.
It’s worth noting that this loss was overturned in August 2012 due to Miami Central forfeiting its entire season over a transfer infraction.
His talents didn’t go unnoticed, as he gained recognition as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com. In the recruiting rankings, Leonard Williams was hailed as the fifth-best prospect among strongside defensive end recruits in his graduating class.
In his first year as a college athlete 2012, Leonard Williams made an immediate impact as a true freshman. He started in nine out of the 13 games as a defensive tackle, amassing an impressive 64 tackles, eight sacks, and even securing an interception.
His standout performance earned him the prestigious title of Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. Continuing his football journey into his sophomore year in 2013, Williams underwent a position change from tackle to defensive end.
Despite this transition, he maintained his stellar performance, recording 74 tackles and six sacks. His achievements didn’t go unnoticed, as he was named a first-team All-Pac-12 selection and received All-American recognition from ESPN.
The excellence that marked his college career reached its pinnacle in his junior year in 2014. Williams scored 80 tackles and seven sacks, solidifying his reputation as a standout player.
His contributions were acknowledged with the Team MVP title, another first-team All-Pac-12 distinction, and All-American honors, this time from the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and ESPN.
Following a highly successful junior season, Leonard Williams chose to forego his senior year and officially declared his intention to enter the 2015 NFL Draft.
Leading up to the NFL Draft 2015, there was significant anticipation surrounding Leonard Williams. In May 2014, various mock drafts consistently placed him as a top-4 selection for the upcoming draft.
By the time October 2014 arrived, he had risen even further in the rankings, with projections often placing him among the top three picks.
As the draft neared, Williams frequently found himself in the second-overall pick slot in mock drafts. However, as the final weeks approached, a shift in expert opinions emerged, with many predicting that Marcus Mariota would secure the second overall pick, causing Leonard Williams to subsequently slip to a projected draft position in the range of 3rd to 5th overall.
New York Jets
Leonard Williams was selected as the sixth overall pick by the New York Jets in the 2015 NFL Draft, signifying the highest draft position for a USC defensive lineman since Darrell Russell in 1997.
Williams wasted no time making his commitment official, signing a substantial four-year contract worth $18.6 million on May 8, 2015.
On August 11, 2015, Williams debuted in the first preseason against the Detroit Lions and made his professional game. However, he did not register any official statistics in that particular contest.
However, in his second preseason appearance against the Atlanta Falcons on August 21, 2015, Williams demonstrated his skills by amassing four tackles, including a critical sack on T. J. Yates in the endzone, resulting in a safety.
In the third preseason game on August 29, 2015, against their interleague rivals, the New York Giants, Williams faced adversity as he was forced to exit the game due to what appeared to be a knee injury.
Fortunately, X-rays and MRIs returned negative, indicating no ligament damage. On September 7, 2015, Williams had a jersey number switch from 62 to 92.
When he made his regular-season debut against the Cleveland Browns on September 13, 2015, Williams showcased his skills by making five tackles.
On December 6, 2015, in a matchup against the Giants, Williams recorded his first sack, marking a significant milestone in the fierce Giants-Jets rivalry. In his rookie year, 2015, Williams participated in all 16 games and accumulated 63 tackles, along with three sacks.
The 2016 NFL season kicked off with Leonard Williams displaying his pass-rushing prowess in the opening game against the Cincinnati Bengals on September 11.
Williams notched an impressive 2.5 sacks, marking his first multi-sack game in his career. Despite a solid defensive effort that saw the Jets amass six sacks, they narrowly lost the game with a score of 23-22.
Williams concluded the season with seven sacks, earning recognition for his exceptional performance as he was selected as a first-team alternate for the 2017 Pro Bowl.
In 2017, Williams continued to be a pivotal part of the Jets’ defense, starting in all 16 games. However, he recorded a career-low 47 tackles and two sacks during the season.
On April 11, 2018, the Jets exercised the fifth-year option on Williams’ contract, indicating their continued investment in his talents.
In Week 16, during a game against the Green Bay Packers, Williams was disqualified for the first time in his NFL career after engaging in an altercation with Bryan Bulaga, resulting in a punch being thrown.
Unfortunately, this game also featured 16 penalties, and the Jets lost in overtime with a score of 44-38. Following this incident, on December 29, Williams received a fine of $43,449, which included a penalty for a hit on Aaron Rodgers.
New York Giants
During the 2019 season, there was a significant shift for Leonard Williams. On October 28, 2019, Williams was part of a trade that saw him move from the New York Jets to the New York Giants.
In return, the Giants acquired a 2020 third-round pick and a 2021 fifth-round pick. In Week 15, facing the Miami Dolphins, Williams played a pivotal role by forcing a fumble from his former teammate, Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Sean Chandler, his fellow Giant, swiftly recovered the loose ball during their 36-20 victory.
In the 2020 season, he brought some exciting developments for Williams. On March 16, 2020, the Giants applied the franchise tag to him.
Williams later signed the one-year tender on April 22, 2020. He began the training camp on August 2, 2020, listed on the active/non-football injury list but was subsequently activated on August 14, 2020.
In Week 1, during a Monday Night Football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Williams secured his first sack of the season, taking down Ben Roethlisberger during a 26-16 loss.
This represented Williams’ initial full sack since his arrival at the Giants, surpassing his previous total of 0.5 sacks from 2019.
Notably, in Week 13 against the Seattle Seahawks, Williams delivered an outstanding performance by registering 2.5 sacks on Russell Wilson in a pivotal 17-12 victory.
This exceptional display earned him the title of NFC Defensive Player of the Week. In Week 17, facing the Dallas Cowboys, Williams shone again, tallying three sacks on Andy Dalton in a 23-19 victory.
His outstanding display in that match earned him the coveted NFC Defensive Player of the Week Award. By the end of the season, Williams had accumulated a remarkable total of 11.5 sacks.
In the 2021 season, the New York Giants opted to utilize the franchise tag on Williams for the second consecutive year to keep him on the team.
However, on March 18, 2021, the Giants made a substantial decision by signing Williams to a lucrative three-year contract valued at $63 million.
This agreement featured an impressive $45 million in guaranteed funds and a signing bonus of $22.50 million.
Heading into the 2022 season, the Giants decided to restructure Williams’ contract on September 6, 2022, creating additional cap space.
However, Williams faced a setback when he sprained his MCL during Week 2 while playing against the Carolina Panthers.
On October 30, 2023, Williams experienced a change in his NFL journey as he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft and a fifth-round pick in the 2025 NFL Draft.
This trademarked a significant move in his career and opened a new chapter with the Seahawks.
FAQs about Leonard Williams
Is Leonard Williams still playing football?
Leonard Austin Williams, born on June 20, 1994, is an American football defensive end with the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL.
How many sacks did Leonard Williams have?
Throughout his career, Williams has made appearances in 112 games, starting in 104 of them for both the Giants and Jets.
His career statistics encompass 404 tackles (198 of which were solo), 35.5 sacks, 145 quarterback hits, 53 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, nine passes defensed, and one interception.
What position is Leonard Williams?
Leonard Williams, the Pro Bowl defensive end, engaged in discussions with his new teammates this week as he joined the Seahawks.
This interaction occurred at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Washington, on November 1, 2023, just before practice.
What number is Leonard Williams?
Seahawks’ fresh acquisition, Leonard Williams, sporting the number 99, commences his initial practice session in preparation for the upcoming game in Baltimore.
Who does Leonard Williams play for?
Following the significant trade on Monday that brings former Pro Bowl defensive lineman Leonard Williams to the Seahawks, Wyman delves into specific plays from Williams’ tenure with the New York Giants.
This analysis offers insights into how he is expected to contribute to Seattle’s defense in a new Football 101 video.
Why did the Giants trade Leonard Williams?
It’s not that he lacked significance as a player because he certainly did, however, with the highest salary cap number on the team.
Primarily due to the decisions of the previous management, the Giants were unlikely to receive a level of performance that would justify the expenditure, especially as Williams approaches his 30th birthday.
Is Leonard Williams still on the Giants?
In East Rutherford, New Jersey, the New York Giants have refrained from conducting a full-scale trade spree at the deadline.
They decided to trade Leonard Williams, who had recorded 1.5 sacks, just 24 hours before the deadline and then opted to remain inactive despite having nine games left in the season. This decision may have been partially voluntary.
What did the Giants trade for Leonard Williams?
In exchange for a second-round pick and a 2025 fifth-round selection, the Giants assumed a substantial portion of Williams’ remaining contract.
What teams has Leonard Williams been on?
On Wednesday, the Seattle Seahawks’ latest addition embarked on his first day as an NFL player away from the New York region.
Following a career solely with the Jets or the Giants, Williams, now in his ninth professional season, was traded to the Pacific Northwest on Monday.
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