Avery Williamson

Jets Trade Avery Williamson To Steelers

With a couple of days left until the deadline, we’ve got news of another major trade to pass along. The Jets are going to trade linebacker Avery Williamson to the Steelers.

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News was the first to tweet that a deal was in the works, and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network quickly confirmed that the trade was in fact happening (Twitter link). Pittsburgh will send New York a 2022 fifth-rounder and get back a 2022 seventh-rounder, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Williamson will provide needed reinforcements at inside linebacker after the Steelers just lost stud Devin Bush for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

Pittsburgh is the last undefeated team in the league and they’re looking like legit Super Bowl contenders, so it’s not surprising that they’re being aggressive. It makes plenty of sense for the 0-8 Jets as well, as New York is looking to sell off veteran assets in exchange for whatever draft capital they can get.

A fifth-round pick of the Titans back in 2014, Williamson signed a three-year, $22.5MM pact with the Jets in the 2018 offseason. He started all 16 games for New York that year, racking up a whopping 120 tackles, before missing all of last season with a torn ACL. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and with Bush coming back in 2021, this will likely be a short-term rental.

The Jets have already shipped out Steve McLendon and Jordan Willis, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see things devolve into a full-blown fire sale in the next couple of days.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Thomas, Njoku, Watt, Jets

Saints head coach Sean Payton has said his team has no interest in trading star receiver Michael Thomas, though Thomas’ camp was recently said to be looking for potential deals. There has been no movement towards a Thomas trade, and whether that’s because New Orleans has no interest in dealing him or because the club has not received an offer it likes, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says Thomas will stay put.

With the trade deadline two days away, let’s round up a few more rumors on players who could be on the move:

  • The Browns don’t want to trade tight end David Njoku, but Njoku has renewed his request to be dealt, and Rapoport says Cleveland has been fielding calls on the former first-rounder. It may take at least a fourth-round pick to get a deal done, but with Austin Hooper set to return and with the emergence of rookie Harrison Bryant, the Browns may elect to move Njoku.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the Texans are at the center of the trade market, with one executive saying Houston could move as many as five players if it wants to. Rapoport expects the Packersinterest in Will Fuller — which dates back to the summer — to ramp up, but it will likely take a high pick to convince the Texans to move Fuller. Fellow WR Kenny Stills has also drawn some interest, though rival clubs see the contracts for Stills and Randall Cobb as prohibitive. DE J.J. Watt may be receptive to a trade, but considering his contract and age, other teams probably don’t value him like the Texans do.
  • The Jets have received calls on LB Avery Williamson, OTs George Fant and Chuma Edoga, and CB Quincy Wilson, per Albert Breer of SI.com. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says the Steelers — who recently lost Devin Bush for the season — could be in the market for Williamson, and Edoga also seems like a good bet to be dealt since he does not look like a fit with the current regime.
  • La Canfora says teams have also called the Jets about WR Breshad Perriman and TE Chris Herndon, though Breer notes that safety Marcus Maye has not drawn much interest.
  • Rapoport names Dolphins RB Jordan Howard and Seahawks TE Jacob Hollister as two other players who could be moved. And though the Bengals are shopping disgruntled wideout John Ross, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com says there hasn’t been interest in Ross (Twitter link).

Jets Promote Alec Ogletree To Active Roster

One of several high-profile veterans to agree to join a practice squad in this unusual NFL season, Alec Ogletree will be in a more familiar position Sunday.

The Jets are promoting the veteran linebacker to their active roster. Ogletree was a free agent for several months before agreeing to stay in New York on a Jets practice squad deal.

Ogletree started for two seasons with the Giants, with that tenure coming after a five-year Rams run. Although advanced metrics were not especially high on the veteran defender during his Giants stay, he intercepted five passes and returned two for scores in a productive 2018 season. The Giants, however, made Ogletree a cap casualty earlier this year and then devoted much of those funds to paying Blake Martinez.

Avery Williamson is questionable to play against the 49ers on Sunday, and the Jets are without C.J. Mosley because of his opt-out decision. Ogletree, still just 28, has made 93 starts. Should he not start for the Jets on Sunday, it will mark his first time as a game-day backup since going in the 2013 first round. Ogletree played for current Jets DC Gregg Williams during the latter’s final three Rams seasons (2014-16).

The Jets also promoted running back Josh Adams and wide receiver Josh Malone to their active roster, using the 2020 practice squad elevation option for the two skill-position players. Gang Green has run into extensive injury trouble at wideout and placed Le’Veon Bell on IR this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets, Avery Williamson Agree On Restructure

A trade candidate during the offseason, Avery Williamson saw his place with the Jets became more secure after C.J. Mosley‘s opt-out decision. And he now looks like he’s staying in New York for the 2020 season.

The veteran linebacker agreed to restructure his contract Monday. Williamson is now set to make $3.5MM this season, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The Jets guaranteed Williamson $1MM, and this adjustment can earn the ex-Titans starter up to $5MM.

Williamson cutting his 2020 pay down from $6.5MM creates $3.75MM in cap space for the Jets, who already held more than $30MM in space going into Monday.

This is the third year of the three-year deal Williamson signed in 2018. At signing, that contract was worth $22.5MM. Williamson, 28, is the most experienced member of Gang Green’s linebacking corps, which now includes former Ravens starter Patrick Onwuasor.

Williamson is attempting to return from the ACL tear that shelved him for all of the 2019 season. While the Jets shopped him this offseason, Williamson led the 2018 team in tackles with a career-high 120.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Dolphins, Jets, Gase

Prior to being selected by the Patriots in the third round of the 2016 draft, quarterback Jacoby Brissett wanted nothing to do with New England.

“I honestly did not want to be there,” Brissett said on the McCourty twins’ podcast (via Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston). “When I took my visit there — my pre-draft visit — I was like, ‘Hell no. If one team drafts me, it better not be them.’

“And I’ll never forget, (offensive coordinator) Josh (McDaniels) called me on the phone on draft night and I didn’t have his number saved. That’s how bad it was. I didn’t even have his number saved in my phone. I was like, ‘Damn, man.'”

You can’t necessarily blame Brissett for feeling that way. Besides having to play behind one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Tom Brady, the rookie QB was also behind former second-rounder Jimmy Garoppolo on the depth chart. Due to suspensions and injuries to his teammates, Brissett ended up seeing time in three games (two starts) during his rookie campaign. The following year, the Patriots shipped Brissett to the Colts in exchange for wideout Phillip Dorsett.

“Honestly, that was my wake-up to the NFL, was being traded and then the next week, you’re out there in a game,” Brissett added. “It was like, ‘We don’t care how long you’ve been here. You’d better know how to play.”

Let’s check out some more notes from the AFC East…

  • Speaking of Patriots quarterbacks, Cam Newton is in New England to complete his physical and finalize his one-year deal, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The reporter notes that the Patriots are confident in the quarterback’s “condition” and aren’t anticipating any issues with the physical. Injuries limited Newton to only a pair of games in 2019, forcing him to settle for a one-year, $1.75MM deal with New England.
  • If the Dolphins are forced to trim their training camp roster, then Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald points to a handful of undrafted rookies who could get cut, including offensive linemen Jonathan Hubbard, Nick Kaltmayer, and Donell Stanley. Jackson also opines that a handful of veterans could be sent packing, a group that includes offensive linemen Adam Pankey and Keaton Sutherland, quarterback Jake Rudock, fullback Chandler Cox, and receivers Ricardo Louis and Mack Hollins.
  • Connor Hughes of The Athletic did a somewhat similar exercise with the Jets, as he explored which players could be traded if New York gets off to a sluggish start. The writer points to wideout Breshad Perriman, linebacker Avery Williamson, running back Le’Veon Bell, defensive end Henry Anderson, and safety Marcus Maye as potential trade candidates.
  • While Hughes believes that Adam Gase has received some underserved criticism during his tenure in New York, the writer also can’t envision the Jets head coach keeping his job if the team finishes with seven or fewer wins. Of course, there are plenty of scenarios where the Jets struggle and Gase does keep his job, especially if quarterback Sam Darnold misses more time in 2020.

Release Candidate: Jets LB Avery Williamson

In the 2018 offseason, the Jets pounced early to land linebacker Avery Williamson. At the time, the three-year, $22.5MM deal made plenty of sense, even though the $16MM in guaranteed cash was on the high side. 

[RELATED: Logan Ryan Discusses Free Agency, Jets Rumors]

Williamson, then 26, was tough and durable, having missed only one game for the Titans since entering the league as fifth-round pick. In his walk year, Williamson started all 16 games and notched 52 tackles and three sacks. Pro Football Focus anointed him as the NFL’s tenth-best linebacker and the Jets figured they were getting a top-end defender in his prime.

In Year One, the deal seemed to be panning out. Williamson racked up a career-high 120 stops, recorded two forced fumbles, and matched his three sacks from the previous year. Then, 2019 happened – his whole season was wiped out before it could even begin, thanks to a torn ACL in August.

The Jets shopped Williamson before the draft, but they were unable to find any takers. Now, they have a decision to make. If they’re unable to find a suitable trade between now and September, do they bet on Williamson coming back healthy and reprising his ’18 season (when he ranked 20th on PFF’s LB list), or do they cut ties and save ~$6.5MM against the 2020 cap?

It seems likely that the Jets will opt for the latter. Whether Gregg Williams leans more towards a 3-4 or a 4-3 set this year, the Jets can use C.J. Mosley, Blake Cashman, Patrick Onwuasor, and James Burgess to hold down the ILB spot(s). There’s tons of questions about Mosley, of course, but releasing him is simply not an option right now – his five-year, $85MM deal includes $43MM in fully guaranteed money, and the Jets would be saddled with a $30MM dead cap hit for dropping him. Since signing that deal, Mosley has suited up for just two games in green and white.

The Jets – who are aiming to fill their cornerback need by signing Logan Ryan – could shed Williamson’s contract soon in order to make the numbers work.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Put LB Avery Williamson On The Trade Block

A pair of Jets defenders could find themselves on new teams by the end of the weekend. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports (via Twitter) that Avery Williamson is available for trade. The reporter also notes that defensive end Henry Anderson is “[a]nother name to monitor.”

After spending four seasons with the Titans, Williamson joined the Jets back in 2018. He had a productive first season in New York, compiling a career-high 120 tackles to go along with three sacks and two forced fumbles. Unfortunately, he missed the entire 2019 campaign thanks to a torn ACL.

Williamson is in the final year of a three-year, $22.5MM deal (including $16MM guaranteed). It was only a year ago that he rated as a top-20 linebacker per Pro Football Focus, so it wouldn’t be shocking if the Jets find a taker for the 28-year-old.

Anderson joined the Jets via trade back in 2018. The lineman had a career-high seven sacks during his first season in New York, and he finished the 2019 campaign have made a career-high 13 starts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Rivers, Jets, Ogletree

The Patriots drafted edge rusher Derek Rivers in the third round of the 2017 draft, but the Youngstown State product has played in just six regular season games over his first three years in the pros. His entire rookie campaign was wiped out due to a torn ACL, he had a limited workload in 2018, and he sustained a knee injury during a preseason game in August that landed him on IR for all of 2019.

But as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes, Rivers still features heavily in New England’s plans. Reiss says Rivers remains a constant presence at the team’s facility, and if the team cannot retain free agent Kyle Van Noy — which is quite possible, given the amount of cap space that will need to be devoted to the offensive side of the ball, including the quarterback position — Rivers will need to step up.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv takes a look at a few Jets who could be cap casualties this offseason. Most of them — like CB Trumaine Johnson, whom we recently discussed as a release candidate — are obvious choices, but players like Jonotthan Harrison and Avery Williamson are more difficult calls. Vacchiano believes the club would be wise to retain Harrison at least as a depth option, and he suggests Williamson could be back on a reworked contract.
  • In a separate piece, Vacchiano names a few players the Jets should target in free agency, assuming their current teams don’t retain them. Unsurprisingly, he believes Gang Green should target the top of the O-line (Brandon Scherff, Jack Conklin) and WR (Amari Cooper, Emmanuel Sanders) markets.
  • Vacchiano undergoes the same exercises for the Giants that he did for the Jets. For Big Blue, he names LB Alec Ogletree as the most likely player to be cut on his list of seven names, and he also believes Conklin would be a perfect fit for the G-Men.
  • Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic summarizes the changes to the coaching staff that the Eagles recently made official. We had previously passed along most of those names, though Kapadia’s list also includes Andrew Breiner (hired as pass game analyst) and Dino Vasso (promoted to assistant defensive coordinator). He also offers his take on the changes, including his observation that the offensive staff now includes coaches who have very different schematic backgrounds, which suggests that Philadelphia will try to incorporate a wide variety of looks in 2020.

Jets’ Avery Williamson Done For Season

Avery Williamson‘s season ended before it could start. The Jets linebacker is done for the year with a torn ACL, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). 

Williamson was on the field for the Jets in Thursday night’s preseason game and calling signals for the defense. He was set to continue in a similar veteran leadership this season, but he’ll have to wait until 2020 to pick things up again.

This opens up a major hole for the Jets’ D at the weakside linebacker spot alongside C.J. Mosley. One has to imagine the Jets are on the hunt for a new three-down ‘backer who can work in Gregg Williams‘ defense, but there aren’t a ton of great options out there.

Last year, Williamson totaled a career-high 120 tackles and graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 18 traditional linebacker.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

LB Notes: Broncos, Burfict, Jets, Judon

As we wind down the final week of the 2019 offseason, let’s look at a few of the league’s linebacker situations. The Broncos are one of the two teams opening training camp next week, joining the Falcons, and they’ve had a quietly interesting year at this spot.

  • Denver passed on adding an inside linebacker to replace five-year starter Brandon Marshall, but the report of the team being ready to make a major investment at this spot was accurate. Not only did the Broncos plan to select Devin Bush at No. 10 overall, they wrote the Michigan linebacker’s name on a first-round card, Mike Klis of 9News notes. Broncos VP of player personnel Matt Russell told draft rep Derrick Thomas to write Bush’s name on their card but instructed him not to turn it in, Klis adds. They ended up trading the pick, which became Bush, to the Steelers for additional draft capital.
  • The Broncos plan to use Todd Davis and 2018 fourth-rounder Josey Jewell as their starting inside ‘backers, and while that may leave the team vulnerable in coverage, the coaching staff has hatched an idea to help combat that. Denver drafted Oregon edge rusher Justin Hollins in the fifth round, and instead of hoping he becomes strictly an off-the-bench pass rusher, the Broncos plan to deploy the four-year Duck as a base-set outside ‘backer and an inside player in nickel packages, Klis writes. Hollins ran a 4.50-second 40-yard dash at the Combine, leading the team to see if he can be a solution to its problems covering tight ends in recent years.
  • Marshall and Vontaze Burfict will add veteran presences to the Raiders’ long-understaffed linebacking corps, and DC Paul Guenther said (via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Scott Bair) Burfict’s arrival will free him up to utilize more of his playbook than he did last season. Burfict’s issues will not lie with the former Bengals DC’s playbook but rather staying on the field, which has proved to be a persistent issue for the talented player in his six-year career.
  • Avery Williamson will slide to the Jets‘ weakside linebacker spot to accommodate C.J. Mosley, Brian Costello of the New York Post notes. The market-shattering free agent addition will become Gang Green’s defensive play-caller, though both are set to be three-down ‘backers in Gregg Williams‘ defense. In his previous Jets role, Williamson totaled a career-high 120 tackles and graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 18 traditional linebacker last season.
  • The contract Ravens outside ‘backer Matt Judon will likely focus on most in terms of establishing his value is likely Za’Darius Smith‘s Packers deal, Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic writes (subscription required). Judon’s 19 sacks in three seasons are more than Smith’s 18.5-sack total in four, the the latter parlayed his impressive contract year into a four-year, $66MM deal. It is not yet known if the Ravens and Judon have begun extension discussions, but both he and third-year inside linebacker starter Patrick Onwuasor are due for 2020 free agency.