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ESPN: Jacksonville Jaguars should pursue Leonard Williams

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By: Henry Zimmer

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Should the Jaguars try to nab a former Pro Bowler in free agency? ESPN thinks it is worth a shot.

By March 5, teams must complete their franchise tagging of players currently on their roster. On March 13, NFL free agency will officially start.

With free agency happening before the draft, teams are likely to sign a veteran or two to bolster their roster before adding a wealth of young talent to the fold.

One free agent ESPN thinks the Jacksonville Jaguars should pursue is Seattle Seahawks defensive end Leonard Williams.

Williams is a versatile defender who can play multiple positions along the defensive front, ESPN’s Aaron Schatz said. He ranked 19th among interior linemen in pass rush win rate last season and was top 10 in run stop win rate the year before. He also had 33 pressures and 5.5 sacks in 2023, splitting time between the Giants and Seahawks. Williams would slide right in as a 5-technique end, perhaps replacing veteran Adam Gotsis, who will be 32 next season. Gotsis had 26 tackles last season compared to Williams’ 62.

Williams is an unlikely candidate to be tagged by Seattle, making him available to any team that may want him. If Seattle were to franchise Williams, it would cost the Seahawks upwards of $36 million. His value according to Spotrac is that of only about $16.7 million, or about $50 million over three years. The Seahawks only have about $14 million in cap space, meaning the franchise tag is essentially off the table.

Teams can begin negotiating two days before the official opening date of free agency and with Williams returning to Seattle still up in the air, the Jags may want to have a serious look.

Many mock drafts have the Jags potentially eyeing FSU defensive end Jared Verse at the 17th spot, but even more drafts have the team going with a corner. Getting an established veteran like Williams could be the solution for the Jaguars while they bring someone along, potentially drafted this year or drafted last year like Tyler Lacy.

Williams played 10 games this season with the New York Giants before being traded to Seattle where he played in eight. He was originally drafted by the New York Jets in 2015 and has played in 142 career games and is 29 years old.

Seattle traded a 2024 second and a 2025 fourth to acquire Williams at the deadline, so obviously the Seahawks would want to retain a guy they paid a decent price for, and they do have the inside track with Williams and his representation.

In this free agent cycle, NFL.com has Williams as the 18th-best free agent on the market. He obviously could move the needle for the Jags, especially if the team cuts Gotsis and will only owe him a little under $1.5 million. Considering Angelo Blackson, Jeremiah Ledbetter, Gotsis and Lacy are all not up to Williams’ level, adding a former Pro Bowler could be a huge coup for the Jags and first-year defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen.

If a potential doomsday scenario plays out where the team cannot retain Josh Allen, the Jags certainly would want someone up front who is proven to be able to rush the passer regardless of position.

Re-signing Allen and receiver Calvin Ridley are clearly the top priority. Given their contracts, there may not even be money for Williams. But if the Jags were able to lure Williams to Jacksonville, that certainly would ratchet up the team’s chance of fulfilling its postseason dreams.

Originally posted on Big Cat Country – All Posts