When it comes to building a championship-caliber roster in the NFL, one of the hardest pieces to find is an elite interior defensive lineman.
Those players who possess the rare combination of size and athletic ability to wreak havoc in the trenches tend to go very early in drafts, then command large salaries if and when they hit free agency. The Seahawks haven't been able to draft those types of players because, thanks to their sustained success under Pete Carroll and John Schneider, they have rarely picked in the top half of the first round in their 14 drafts together.
So given a chance to add a Pro-Bowl defensive lineman via trade, the Seahawks pulled the trigger on a deal with the Giants on Monday, agreeing to terms on a trade that will send a 2024 second-round pick and a 2025 fifth-round pick to New York in exchange for veteran defensive end Leonard Williams.
It's the kind of move that shows the Seahawks, who moved into first place in the NFC West with Sunday's win over the Browns, believe they are championship contenders this season.
"We're competing," Carroll said. "That's what we always say and tell you, that's really what this is about; just trying to get better and trying to help our team. This is one of the late opportunities to do something like that. John (Schneider) did a beautiful job of figuring it out and how to work it and pick out the guy that really fits and can be a part of this team. I'm really excited for our guys to get to know Leonard and see who he is and what he's all about. His competitiveness is very similar to the guys we have in this program and he's going to fit in great."
A second-round pick is a significant asset for Seattle to give up in a trade, but it's one the Seahawks see as being worthwhile to add a player who Carroll referred to as "a rare player."
"We all know that guys of this stature come out in the draft and they get drafted in the top 10," Carroll said. "You have to be positioned in the top 10 to get them, and fortunately over our history we haven't had that opportunity. But the unfortunate part is, you can see the teams that have, and they've loaded up. They've got guys that can really wreak havoc, make a difference, and they're the ones that you always wish you could have, but we haven't had an opportunity to get them.
"That's the choice—how you make that choice and when you do it, and how do you gauge the pluses and the minuses? This was one of those situations where we get a rare player, and he's young enough—hopefully we can have a chance to get him back again—and could be a big factor. This kind of a choice reminds us that we don't have these options very often to get a player like that. So when you get player who is that obviously at the head of his class, we like to take a shot at it when we can. We're battling. I hope it works out right, we'll find out. We've had some really good No. 2s the last few years, so we look at it like, 'OK, that could be that guy, it could be that guy.' So we know we're giving up something."
Having followed Williams' career at USC, scouted him leading up to the 2015 draft, and faced him multiple times in the NFL, Carroll is very familiar with the player Seattle is adding, and excited about what he can bring to an already strong defensive line led by veterans Jarran Reed, Dre'Mont Jones and Mario Edwards Jr.
Asked what he likes about Williams' game, Carroll said, "Oh man, everything. We watched him for a long time and have known of him for a good while, (USC) Trojan and all of that. He's a fantastic football player. He's the kind of guy that can make the difference in games. He's really a nice player."
Williams also has versatility that will make him even more valuable.
"He can play anywhere," Carroll said. "He can play five-technique, he can play three-technique and he plays on the center as well. He's done all of that. He brings a lot of versatility."
Leonard Williams was the sixth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by the New York Jets where he played three and a half seasons before being traded to the New York Giants. Check out some of the best photos from Williams' career so far.