Leonard Williams excited to be back with Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Leonard Williams speaks with reporters at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Wash. on April 17, 2024. (Curtis Crabtree / FOX 13 Seattle)

Despite only spending half a season in Seattle and seeing the head coach he wanted to play for fired this offseason, Leonard Williams was excited to re-sign with the Seahawks this spring.

Even if it meant 20 hours of flights back-and-forth from Japan to get it done.

 "I think I built relationships here," Williams said. "You know, I was obviously sad about Pete (Carroll) leaving. He was a great coach, a big part of the reason why I made the transition to come to Seattle. He's a big part of me coming here and we've had that USC connection. He was a fun coach to play for. But even outside of the coaching staff, I've built relationships in the locker room as well. And, you know, I kind of wanted to continue with that."

Williams, 29, signed a three-year deal with Seattle that is reportedly worth $64.5 million with $43.85 million in total guarantees. Williams was in the middle of a three-week vacation in Japan when they agreed to a new contract with the Seahawks during free agency. Williams quickly hopped on a nine-hour flight back to Seattle from Tokyo, spent just a few hours in town to sign the new deal, and then jumped back on a flight to Japan to continue his vacation.

"I'm obviously like trying to enjoy my vacation, but I was also in free agency. So it was almost hard to enjoy my vacation because I'm like so involved in like, what's going on in free agency, like what's going to happen? Like, where am I going to end up? All those things," Williams said. "And then, you know, I'm getting a call from my agents at one point, and they're thinking that it's not going to be Seattle, and then they call me back, you know, the next morning or even the same day and they're like, ‘OK, it might be Seattle."

Williams was acquired by the Seahawks in a trade with the New York Giants for a pair of draft picks last October. Seattle sent their second-round pick in this year's NFL Draft and a fifth-round pick in the 2025 draft. Williams appeared in 10 games with the Seahawks after the trade, recording 41 tackles with 4.0 sacks, and 11 total quarterback hits.

He also became the first player in modern NFL history to play 18 regular season games in a single year.

Williams noted that Carroll’s presence as head coach made Seattle one of his preferred destinations when the Giants were looking to move him before the trade deadline last October. But the addition of new head coach Mike Macdonald brings its own level of excitement as well.

 "I mean, I just love that he's a defensive-minded coach," Williams said. I mean, he clearly had the top defense in the NFL last year and, you know, playing for a defensive head coach really excites me. You know, I'm playing for a guy that knows that games are won on the defense side of the ball. And that's how I think. I think we have a great offense. I think we have explosive playmakers and I trust that side of the ball, but from any defensive player I want them to think that we're going to be the ones that's going to win the game and I think, you know, Mike kind of shares that same mindset."

When Williams joined the Seahawks, the team was 5-2 and at the top of the NFC West. After his arrival – through no fault of Williams’ play – the Seahawks lost five of their next six games to put themselves in a desperate spot. A loss at home to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17 took away control of their fate and they were unable to sneak into the playoffs despite a win over the Arizona Cardinals in the regular season finale.

"Going through the trade midseason, I was like really excited," Williams said. "I'm like, 'oh, I'm about to go to a playoff team,' you know what I mean, and things like that. You know, obviously things change and I think we still fought to the end. Like I said, we won when we had to (in Arizona), but it was still hard because we put our future in someone else's hands. 

"But at the same time, I think guys, you know, they still held their head up high. It wasn't too many like sad faces or anything like that. But I think even at the end of that there was a little bit of sense of urgency in each other's eyes and the way we talk to each other about coming back for this year."

Macdonald is already making some obvious changes in establishing the program he is looking to run in Seattle. The basketball hoop that was a fixture of team competitions in the auditorium has been removed. So have the large photos of players and moments from the Super Bowl teams that lined the hallway from the auditorium to the locker room. A new podium in the auditorium adds to some of the refresh as well.

"Just to create our own identity," Williams said of the new focus. "That's something that I loved about coming into the building and with the new coach. It just felt like a clean slate. It doesn't feel like we need to have pressure of like trying to chase anything. It's almost like just put one foot in front of the other and create our own identity, create our own team, and something that we can be proud of."


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