As the Seahawks went through their first walkthrough of the week, Jarran Reed realized there was something unique about new teammate and fellow defensive lineman Leonard Williams, and it had nothing to do with Williams' considerable physical talents.
"Honestly, it felt kind of weird, it felt like he had already been here when he was in walkthrough," Reed said of his new teammate. "He came in already fitting in. He already knew Julian Love, he probably knew some of the other guys. We had been talking all day. He just fit right in. Most people come in shy; he let his personality hang. That's what we like here."
For Williams, who was acquired in a trade with the Giants ahead of Tuesday's trade deadline, the feeling was mutual. From his first team meeting, in which he was called upon to take on guard Anthony Bradford in a free-throw shooting contest rather than stand up to formally introduce himself—Williams won, by the way—to having Reed show him around the building, to catching up with former teammates like Julian Love and Jamal Adams, Williams is feeling at home with his new team.
"I've heard nothing but good things about Seattle, even before I came here, about how Pete Carroll is," he said. "I've heard about these basketball goals and stuff like that. My first meeting today, I saw it all happen. Everything that people told me about was happening right in front of me. I thought it was funny, because instead of making me stand up and introduce myself to the team, he made me come up here and compete with some guys on the basketball rim. I love it, because it breeds competition in here. Everything they seem to do here is about competition. I think that transitions onto the field and it creates a competitive mindset on the team, and I love that."
As is so often the case when it comes to trades, it was something of a bittersweet occasion when his agent and Giants general manager Joe Schoen brought up the topic of a trade early in the week, then ultimately got the deal done with Seattle on Monday. Williams is thrilled to be playing for a contender, but he also formed a lot of relationships in his time with Giants, who acquired him in a 2019 trade with the Jets.
"I was excited, but clearly, there were some highs and lows that day," he said. "There were some lows about, I was on the Giants for five years and I built some relationships there. Saying goodbye to people you've built relationships with is always going to be hard, even if you're excited about your future. I think throughout that day, I was on the phone with people from Seattle, and I'm getting super excited, and then I talked to some of my teammates from the Giants and then I got down low again, just saying goodbye. I think all-in-all, this is going to be a fun change for me, and I'm excited about it."
It hardly came as a surprise, but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Williams should be caught up enough by the end of this week to be active for Sunday's game in Baltimore, and Williams said that after nine seasons in the NFL, he isn't worried about transitioning to a new defense.
"I've been playing D-line for a long time and there's not going to be too much of a difference here," he said. "I'm willing to play wherever they want me to play. I think I'm a pretty versatile player. I can play end, nose, three-technique, wherever, preferably three-technique. I'm excited. The team seems fun and has a lot of energy in the meetings, on the field and stuff like that. I'm just coming in open-eyed and taking it all in."
For Carroll, adding a player of Williams' caliber to an already talented defense is, "as fun as it gets. To get a player of this magnitude, the makeup of a kid, the guy that he is when you bring him into your locker room, he's an amazing leader and all of that. Tremendous effort guy, an everyday worker, the whole thing, there are so many positives. It's a real boost to us. We'll move some stuff around, figure it out and how it's all going to fit together. It's a real positive and our guys are really excited about it."
As Carroll notes, Williams' new teammates are excited about what he can add to a team and a defense that is already playing at a high level.
"It's a great pickup," Reed said. "We were already playing good, but when you can get more, we're always competing. that's what we're doing, competing."
Said Love, who was teammates with Williams in New York before signing with Seattle as a free agent this offseason, "He's a good player. He plays hard, he plays physical, he's been doing it at a high level for a long time. Off the field, that guy does everything. You'll see his hobbies are pretty different, he spearfishes, he loves nature, loves outdoor stuff. He's a unique guy.
"He's kind of the perfect three-tech. He plays physical, he's really good against the run, but he can also rush the passer. He's been doing it at a high level for a while."
Veteran tackle Jason Peters has seen plenty of Williams over the years having spent time with the Eagles and Cowboys during Williams' time with the Giants, came away impressed from their matchups.
"He's a dominant player," Peters said. "He's going to help us out a lot in the run game, then he can rush the passer also. He's going to help us out on defense a lot."
Going out and trading for a player like Williams is also a positive for players not just because he's a great player, but because it sends a message that the Seahawks are committed to doing whatever it takes to win this year.
"We're trying to go get this thing," said Love. "We're trying to be the best we can be this year, and we're bringing in guys who can help us win games, period. Pete has been emphasizing that since the spring. We're going to put it all together to try to win."
Added linebacker and defensive captain Bobby Wagner, "Anytime you see a team being aggressive, always trying to improve the roster, even if we're doing well or doing something trying to find ways to make the team better. It's always a good thing, we want to win and we're going to do whatever it takes to win, I think that's cool."
Seahawks practice at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Wash. on Nov. 1, 2023.