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Leonard Williams playing under franchise tag, and with a chip on his shoulder

Leonard Williams at Giants training camp on Aug.

Leonard Williams at Giants training camp on Aug. 5, 2020. Credit: Giants.com/Matthew Swensen

Dave Gettleman is usually the one who gets the grief when it comes to how the Giants have worked with Leonard Williams. He is the general manager who traded for the free agent-to-be in October, had to rely on the franchise tag to keep Williams past his eight-game audition, couldn’t ink him to a long-term deal, and is perceived to have overpaid for Williams both in terms of the three picks used in the trade and the $16.1 million in salary for 2020.

But the subtexts to some of that deserved criticism about Gettleman fall directly onto Williams’ shoulders. Which is why, in a strange twist, one of his goals this season may be to make Gettleman look good and show he is worth everything the Giants have spent on him.

“I wouldn’t say I have something to prove necessarily,” Williams said in a virtual press conference on Friday. “I think my teammates know and my coaches know what I bring to the table or I wouldn’t be here. But I definitely still feel like I am playing with a chip on my shoulder at the same time. I’m ready to just go out and play the best that I can.”

Williams, who reported to training camp with a hamstring injury that has sidelined him through this first week of action, said he believes he has room to continue improving.

“I’m definitely still a young player in this league,” said the five-year veteran Williams. “I feel like I have a lot in the tank and a lot of years left in me to play in this league. I think I need to just keep going.”

Williams, 26, also said he would have liked to sign a long-term deal with the Giants this offseason – “I think it’s always in a player’s interest to get a long term deal,” he said – but that his agents and the organization could not reach an agreement. So instead he is with the Giants on a one-year contract.

“I’m just happy to be here and play with this team again,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s disappointing. I knew the situation I was coming off of last year and I think it’s a good opportunity for myself. I’m looking at it as an opportunity. I’m not looking at it as something that is bad, I’m looking at it as an opportunity… I’m not looking toward the future or next offseason or what’s going to happen a year from now. I’m just trying to get better right now and see what I can do for my team.”

And, in many ways, his general manager.

New York Sports