When talking with the media yesterday, Jets general manager Joe Douglas expressed some optimism towards the prospect of extending star defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. The 25-year-old is headed towards a contract year in the fifth season of his rookie contract and doesn’t expect to play through it without a new deal.
Williams made it known early after the season ended that he had desires for a new contract. The four-year defender in New York has certainly made a case to become one of the highest paid players at his position, and it sounds like the Jets are more than willing to accommodate. Costello reports that Jets ownership “gave Douglas the green light” for negotiations, and Douglas feels good about it so far.
“We’ve had several good discussions with (Williams’s agent Nicole Lynn) and Quinnen since the season,” Douglas said of the situation. “We feel really good about where we’re at. We feel good that this process is going to play out in the right way.”
It’s important that the process does “play out in the right way” as Williams has reportedly claimed that, barring an extension, he plans to “stay away from the voluntary portion of the offseason program.” With the voluntary offseason program just over a month away, Douglas and company will likely be focused on getting a deal done fairly quickly, with April as a deadline.
The thought that this is a priority for the New York front office should put a smile on Williams’s face. Williams put together some pretty good seasons over the first three years of his NFL career, but he saved his best play for the season just prior to when he wanted a new contract. In his most recent year of play, Williams put up career highs in sacks (12.0), tackles for loss (12), quarterback hits (28), and passes defensed (4), while matching career highs in total tackles (55) and forced fumbles (2). Williams’s career year was good enough to qualify him as the fourth-best interior defender, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), behind only stars of the game Chris Jones and Aaron Donald and fellow fourth-year standout Dexter Lawrence.
When looking at a new contract, we should have a good idea of what Williams could receive. For interior defensive lineman, we often see contracts of three or four years. The current highest annual earner at the position is, of course, Donald with the Rams, who makes $31.67MM per year on a three-year deal. Unfortunately, as Donald is a generational talent who is largely untouched by his colleagues, Williams likely won’t sniff Donald’s numbers. Besides Donald, though, Williams has an opportunity to set a new bar for defensive tackles.
Currently, Colts defender DeForest Buckner and Giants versatile lineman Leonard Williams lead the position in annual average value with $21MM. The Chiefs’ star, Jones, is just behind at $20MM and also headed towards a contract year. Williams will benefit from negotiating a new deal at a later date than Buckner and the Giants’ Williams, as contracts tend to continually rise as time goes on. Williams, of the Jets, should expect his new contract to surmount both players’ contracts on the way to an AAV of $22-24MM.
The Jets are hoping to avoid a hold out of their best defensive player. With April drawing ever nearer, New York will likely be putting forth an extension offer of four years worth around $88-92MM. If Donald gets more serious than just flirting with retirement, Williams stands a chance at becoming the highest paid defensive tackle in the league.