Three defenders from the 2014 draft class remain without second contracts, ones that are expected to set the market for future high-profile re-up candidates. Leonard Williams looms as of those who may have an easier time once Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack and Jadeveon Clowney agree to deals.
Williams resides as the Jets’ cornerstone defensive player, and the team is planning to reward him with an extension. The Jets want to extend their 2015 first-round pick in 2019, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports.
The Jets picked up Williams’ $14.2MM fifth-year option in May and have him under contract through the 2019 season, so this timeline makes sense.
The respective outcomes of the Rams’, Raiders’ and Texans’ respective negotiations with their 2014 first-round stars could set up Williams for a major payday next year. Williams isn’t too worried about an imminent extension, which is logical since the landscape could look better for him once Donald, Mack and Clowney are locked into second contracts.
Williams also resides on a team that stands to possess far more cap space than any of the franchises on the brink of authorizing big defensive contracts. New York is projected to hold a league-high $87MM-plus in cap space next year and will likely have a clearer picture of what it will take to retain its top defensive lineman long-term after potential late-summer deals are completed this year.
Not that it will necessarily require a contract that eclipses $20MM per year to extend Williams, but considering the cap’s annual climb of approximately $10MM, that might not be an unreasonable proposition for a team flush in cap room and low on long-term cogs who are extension-eligible.
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