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When the Giants traded for Leonard Williams during the 2019 season, he had zero sacks to his name on the year, and had just a half sack by the end of it.
Fast forward a year and a half later, and the Giants and Williams have just agreed on a three-year, $63 million deal to keep the defensive lineman in New York, after he exploded in 2020 with an 11.5 sack season.
With a new contract comes some added outside (and inside) pressure to excel, but Williams told reporters via Zoom Thursday that he doesn't feel the need to put that on himself, even with the new deal.
"I don't think so. If I allow the pressure to sink in, that's going to take away the fun that allowed me to play so well," Williams said.
Thursday was Williams' first time speaking to reporters since agreeing to the deal, and he seemed very thankful for getting to stay with the organization he's grown to love.
"I love this organization. I love the way I've been getting coached here," Williams said via Zoom. "I love the guys they are bringing into the building player-wise. ...I do well under a coaching staff that pushes you and tries to get the best out of you.
"I'm happy to be here."
Getting all the sentimental aspects of this new deal out of the way, Williams acknowledged that now that the business side of things are out of the way, it's time to go to work on the field.
"I'm 26 years old. I'm still in my prime. I still have a lot of game left in this league," he said.
"I just want to keep giving my best and there's always room for improvement. I want to be that great teammate... I want to be that good model of a guy that people see around the building... I want to keep being that great player"
Williams will get to continue trying to be that great player under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who's return to New York wasn't a certainty after his production of one of the best defenses in the league last season got him a number of head coaching interviews during the offseason.
But he's back and ready to coach this group again.
"He's a really smart guy. He knows his game very well, he knows his players very well, and with that he knows how to put guys in a position to thrive," Williams said of Graham.
Free agency has only just begun, but the Giants took care of their top priority and can now focus on fleshing out the rest of the team's needs.