It’s no secret that Atlanta will have limited cap space this offseason. As Austin Hooper & De’Vondre Campbell likely depart in free agency, this team is going to have even more holes on an already thin roster. With minimal funds at their disposal, should they push all their chips in on a guy who’s been a tad underwhelming over the past five years but still has loads of potential at just 25 years old?.
Leonard Williams has been at best “good” on both sides of the Meadowlands for the Jets & Giants. That’s not enough for a guy who was selected 6th overall. He did make a Pro Bowl in 2016, and 17.5 career sacks isn’t awful for an interior rusher. Even though he has decent numbers, Williams is looking to get PAID big time, and there’s reportedly a substantial market for him. That seems like something that would be put out by his camp; he only finished with half of a sack and 2 TFL in 2019. There’s a reason the Jets could only parlay his services into a 3rd & 5th round pick. His performance doesn’t match the payday.
So how do the Falcons play into this? They need help on the defensive interior, but overpaying Williams is not the solution. If there truly is a market for him that’s willing to give him elite interior rusher money, good for him. He hasn’t eclipsed seven sacks since 2016 and only has 7.5 SINCE then. Williams could become a breakout star next to a more talented group and would thrive alongside Grady Jarrett, but his price tag has to come down even to consider a move like this.
Personally, I think Williams will be franchise tagged. The Giants are probably going to overpay regardless; they gave up draft capital they desperately need for a guy that still has a lot of potential. Even though recent reports suggest the two sides are not close on a new deal, Dave Gettleman will double down on this trade and keep Williams in New York. The Falcons should consider all options when it comes to their defensive line. They have to get better in the trenches if they want to return to playoffs for the first time since 2017. However, with so many holes to fill, there’s no way they can go all-in on a guy like Williams, especially considering the cost for his somewhat underwhelming production.