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Leonard Williams speaks on potential pay cut from Giants contract

Leonard Williams wants to stay with the Giants and wants to see teammate Dexter Lawrence get paid big bucks, but those two things might not be jointly possible.

Williams is signed for one more year at an astronomical salary-cap hit of $32.2 million, which is the 12th-highest charge for any player in the league and the third-highest for a non-quarterback. He is coming off a season with 45 tackles and 2.5 sacks and the first games missed due to injuries in his iron-man eight-year career.

“I try to let things like that play out,” Williams said Sunday. “I believe the plan is the plan and things are going to work out the way they work out. I did my best this year. I fought through injuries and played my hardest. I’m sure I’ll end up somewhere, if not here. I want to play as long as possible.”

Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams speaks to reporters on Jan. 22, 2023.

Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams speaks to reporters on Jan. 22, 2023.
Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams speaks to reporters on Jan. 22, 2023.


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Williams initially said that he “would probably consider” a pay cut from his $18 million salary, but he quickly walked back his words to say a pay cut is “probably something I would have to talk to my agent [about] and probably something I would have to see how [the Giants front office] is feeling.”

The Giants cut the player with the highest salary-cap hit (James Bradberry) going into this season because they were cap-strapped. More breathing room comes from $52.5 million in cap space for 2023, according to spotrac.com, but a lot of deals need to get done.

“It’s something I haven’t thought about yet, so it’s hard to answer right away,” Williams said. “I’m considering all possibilities.”

Leonard Williams on the Giants' bench during a playoff loss to the Eagles on Jan. 21, 2023.
Leonard Williams on the Giants’ bench during a playoff loss to the Eagles on Jan. 21, 2023.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

In two previous negotiations since the Giants gave up all leverage with an in-season trade for Williams in 2019, Williams’ agents, Roosevelt Barnes and Brandon Parker, have squeezed out every penny, taking a franchise tag in 2020 and a top-of-the-market three-year, $63 million extension in 2021 on the heels of his career-best 11.5 sacks. The Giants could cut Williams to save $12.2 million against the cap for $20 million in savings. 

“I definitely love this team and I want to be here,” Williams said. “I want to play with Dex as long as possible. Playing with someone like that helps me individually, and we help each other and the defense when we have two stout guys up front.”

Lawrence is signed on a $12.4 million team option for next season and has a Giants tattoo on his bicep, so it’s clear that he sees himself getting a multi-year extension sooner or later. The defensive-tackle market is expected to explode, which could elevate Lawrence to $20 million-$25 million per year, according to contract analysts.

Dexter Lawrence walks off the field after the Giants' loss to the Eagles on Jan. 21, 2023.
Dexter Lawrence walks off the field after the Giants’ loss to the Eagles on Jan. 21, 2023.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“He deserves it,” Williams said. “The world got to see the fruits of his labor this year. He’s been playing outstanding all year.”

Williams missed three games with an MCL sprain in his knee early in the season and played through neck pain late in the season.

“I’m just going to rest it a lot for right now but at the same time, figure out a plan,” Williams said. “I don’t want this to be something that’s lingering for the rest of my career, and I definitely want to handle it as soon as possible.”

The belief is surgery is not needed.

“I started off with a stinger that I kind of ignored at first because I had a stinger a long time ago in high school,” Williams said. “After that, it started coming back more and more. After getting so many of them, it started causing a little bit of nerve damage. The trainers are telling me the main thing it needs is rest, which I wasn’t able to get during the regular season.”

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