Leonard Williams

Latest On Jets’ Star Players, GM Search

Rich Cimini of ESPN.com passes along a number of interesting notes about the Jets this morning, including a few thoughts and reports on the futures of certain key players and the team’s hunt for a new GM.

For instance, Cimini reports that there is already speculation in league circles that head coach/interim GM Adam Gase is looking to move on from defensive lineman Leonard Williams. That does not mean that Gase wants to trade or cut Williams in 2019, but it sounds as though the new regime would be perfectly willing to allow Williams to sign elsewhere when he becomes a free agent at the end of the year. Cimini suggests that the club could franchise tag Williams or execute a tag-and-trade, but a long-term deal with the Jets does not seem likely at this point.

With respect to Le’Veon Bell, whose signing was a factor in the deteriorating relationship between Gase and former GM Mike Maccagnan, Cimini says it would not be surprising to see the Jets trade Bell after the 2019 season. If they cannot find a trade partner, then Bell can easily be cut after the 2020 season, when all of his guaranteed money will have been paid.

Robby Anderson‘s future with the club is more straightforward. Gase appreciates Anderson’s talent, and if the big-play wideout has a strong 2019, he could be back with Gang Green on a multi-year pact. If he disappoints, he will be gone.

And as far as the club’s GM search is concerned, Cimini says that the rumors connecting Peyton Manning to the job have no substance and that Manning is not on the Jets’ radar at the moment (which jibes with a report from yesterday). Cimini also hears that Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas remains the odds-on favorite for the job. Douglas has been billed as the front-runner since Maccagnan was fired.

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Jets Have No Plans To Move Leonard Williams

This will be a season of upheaval for the Jets, but one key player appears to be safe. The Jets have no plans to trade defensive lineman Leonard Williams, according to Manish Mehta of the Daily News (on Twitter). 

Recently, the Jets considered the notion of trading Williams if they could net a second-round pick in return. The former first-round pick is under contract in 2019 via a $14.2MM fifth-year option, a figure that would put him ninth amongst all interior linemen in the NFL. Of course, he’d only get more expensive after that point and the Jets were previously burned by Muhammad Wilkerson‘s oversized pact.

For now, it sounds like the Jets are willing to wait things out and see if they can hammer out a new deal in the next year. If they can’t get a deal done, they could employ the franchise tag to stall. A 2020 franchise tag would cost the team roughly $18MM, meaning that Williams would earn about $32MM over the next two years. The AAV of $16MM would rank as the sixth-highest salary of defensive tackles league-wide.

As far as we know, the Jets have yet to engage in extension talks with Williams, but those talks are expected to occur in 2019.

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AFC East Notes: Brady, Dolphins, Jets

Following the Patriots‘ third Super Bowl title of the decade, they again have their legendary quarterback going into a contract year. Robert Kraft is on board with another Tom Brady extension, but no talks have commenced yet, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Brady has never played into a contract year. While some uncertainty existed around Brady’s place with the Patriots last offseason, Breer adds the key parties are on good terms this year. The 41-year-old quarterback said before Super Bowl LIII he was not going to retire, and an extension would bring down his $27MM cap number. Brady signed team-friendly deals in 2013 and ’16 around the Combine those years.

With the quarterback market finally making big strides over the past year and change, Brady’s demands could justifiably increase. Brady’s historic contributions to the franchise notwithstanding, Bill Belichick may not be wild about a possible $30MM-AAV contract for Brady that runs into future Hall of Famer’s mid-40s, NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran offered during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show (video link). Of course, with the Patriots an annual title contender and no heir apparent in place, it would seem unthinkable a Brady pact does not get done this offseason.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Although Ryan Tannehill is not expected to return to the Dolphins, GM Chris Grier said no decision has been made on that front. The Dolphins are expected to trade or release Tannehill, and the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson tweets a photo of the seven-year Dolphin quarterback has been removed from their press room. Grier wants input from Brian Flores and his new staff on the 30-year-old quarterback, but the Dolphins are expected to move on from their six-season starter. With an eye on the 2020 quarterback class, they are not believed to be targeting a high-priced free agent to replace Tannehill, either.
  • Armed with nearly $100MM in cap space and a GM potentially on the hot seat, the Jets make sense as Le’Veon Bell‘s buyer. While one report indicated New York won’t use a bank-breaking approach to land the All-Pro running back, SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano notes the Jets are still zeroed in on Bell. The soon-to-be 27-year-old back is still believed to prefer the Colts, per Vacchiano, but Indianapolis may not view him in the same light.
  • Some turmoil has already hit Gregg Williams‘ new team. Mike Maccagnan and Adam Gase initially did not view Blake Williams as a hiring priority for the Jets’ defensive staff, and this irked Blake’s father, according to ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini. Gregg Williams was frustrated with Maccagnan and Gase, but the new Gang Green DC won out, with Blake Williams signed on as linebackers coach. Blake upset some Rams staffers during his time as St. Louis assistant, before being fired after the 2013 season, Cimini notes, adding the young coach has developed somewhat of a polarizing reputation.
  • The Jets may have an issue trading Leonard Williams, with a $14.2MM salary due, but Vacchiano points out the general consensus around the NFL is the 2015 top-10 pick has been misused in New York. With the Jets moving to a 4-3 look under Gregg Williams, Leonard Williams is not a lock to be back. Of course, Gregg Williams may view the former 3-4 defensive end as a weapon in his scheme. The Jets are light on surefire front-seven talent, so their new DC might want some capable veterans to stay.

Jets May Shop DT Leonard Williams?

The Jets may place defensive tackle Leonard Williams on the trade block in the coming months with the hope of receiving at least a second-round pick, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com.

If Gang Green does shop Williams, it appears the club’s motives would be mostly financial in nature. As a former first-round pick, Williams is under contract in 2019 via a $14.2MM fifth-year option. That figure alone would rank Williams ninth among all NFL interior defensive lineman, and he’d only get more expensive in the following years.

New York could potentially reach a long-term extension with Williams at some point in the next year-plus, but a franchise tag could also be in the cards. If he’s franchised in 2020, Williams would collect 120% of his 2019 salary, meaning he’d earn roughly $32MM over the next two seasons combined. A $16MM average annual value would rank sixth among defensive tackles on a league-wide basis.

Thus far, the Jets haven’t had any extension negotiations with Williams, although those talks are expected to occur in 2019. Williams, who has acknowledged New York’s head coaching change will affect his decisions going forward, doesn’t sound interested in giving the Jets any sort of hometown discount. “It’s one of my goals to be one of the best players, one of the best defensive linemen,” Williams said in June“When that comes, then I think the money comes with it.”

Williams is still only 24 years old, and has never missed a game during his NFL career. In 2018, Williams managed five sacks and tied for 18th among defensive lineman with 20 quarterback hits. Pro Football Focus ranked Williams as the 31st-best interior defender among 121 qualifiers.

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Jets Notes: Enunwa, Tomlinson, Offseason

The Jets signed receiver Quincy Enunwa to a multi-year contract extension yesterday, with the four-year pact coming in at $36MM (and about $20MM in guaranteed money). The 2014 sixth-round pick out of Nebraska has spent his entire career with the Jets, and he’s excited to stick with the organization for the foreseeable future.

“I knew when I got here that I wanted to be a Jet for a very long time,” Enunwa told the team website. “Now, I’ll get my opportunity and it feels really good.”

The 26-year-old broke onto the scene in 2016, when he hauled in 58 receptions for 857 yards and four scores. He missed the entire 2017 season with a neck injury, and he’s appeared in only 11 games this year. However, he’s clearly gaining the trust of quarterback Sam Darnold, and Enunwa is confident that the duo will continue to improve.

“I’m excited for the future and for some more big plays,” Enunwa said. “And I think there is a lot in store for us as a team.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes out of New York…

  • The Enunwa extension was the “first big contract” that was negotiated by Dave Socie, points out Brian Costello of the New York Post (via Twitter). Socie was hired as the team’s Senior Director of Football Administration during the summer after previously serving in the role back in 2006. In this role, Socie works with general manager Mike Maccagnan on all things contracts and salary cap.
  • The Jets placed tight end Eric Tomlinson on injured reserve earlier this week, but it doesn’t sound like the 26-year-old suffered his injury on the field. Rather, Costello tweets that Tomlinson dropped a weight on his foot, leading to a pair of lacerated toes. The accident forced the tight end to undergo surgery, ending his season. Tomlinson had started 12 of his 15 games this season, serving mostly as a blocking tight end. The former Texas-El Paso standout has 16 career receptions for 193 yards and one touchdown.
  • Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.TV believes the Jets should be prioritizing experience as they search for a new head coach. The writer opines that the organization “can’t afford to be wrong with their next hire,” as they’ll be risking Darnold’s formative seasons. Fortunately, Vacchiano believes Maccagnan and CEO Christopher Johnson recognize this, as the team has already been connected to experienced coaches like Jim Harbaugh and Mike McCarthy. The writer also believes the team should give a look at former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell.
  • ESPN’s Rich Cimini writes that the Jets should use their draft picks and $100MM+ in cap space to build a formidable team around Darnold. Specifically, Cimini says the team should make a “serious run” at running back Le’Veon Bell, and he also lists offensive line, receiver, and edge rusher as positions of need. The writer also suggests shopping defensive end Leonard Williams, who is set to earn $14.2MM next season.

Leonard Williams Addresses Jets Future

One of the cornerstone players of a rebuilding Jets operation is signed through 2019 via fifth-year option, but beyond that, nothing’s certain.

No extension talks have taken place between Leonard Williams and the Jets, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports. The former No. 6 overall pick also acknowledged a coaching change may impact his decision to commit to the team long-term.

I think it would a little bit, actually,” Williams said, via Mehta, who describes the fourth-year defensive end as being loyal to Todd Bowles. “I feel like it will impact my decision when that comes. But the fact that I don’t know if there’s going to be a coaching change or I don’t know if there’s going to be a (new) contract… I don’t know what’s in the store for the future, so I can’t (predict).”

“… If there’s a coaching change, that’s going to be basically playing for a whole new team. If I’m going to be playing for a new team here anyway, then it would be the same as playing for a new team somewhere else.”

The Jets were previously eyeing a Williams extension in 2019 and may still be. They just haven’t come to the 24-year-old defensive end for re-up talks yet.

The Jets have Williams attached to a $14.2MM cap number next year, and while their $100MM-plus in projected cap room would make a Williams extension easy, the team could also play this out through the franchise tag in 2020. Bowles signed an extension late last year but may well be fired after what’s been a disappointing season.

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Jets Eyeing 2019 Leonard Williams Extension

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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Jets In “No Rush” To Extend DT Leonard Williams

The Jets are in “no rush” to extend the contract of defensive tackle Leonard Williams, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com.

Because he is a former first-round pick, Williams is under Jets control through the 2019 campaign thanks to his fifth-year option. Williams, 23, is scheduled to earn nearly $3MM in base salary for the upcoming season before seeing his pay balloon to $14.2MM in 2019. Given his contract structure, Williams isn’t an immediate priority for New York, and Williams has indicated he’s not concerned about his next deal.

However, Williams does seem to have some sort of monetary goal in mind. When asked if he wants to become the league’s highest-paid defensive lineman, Williams hedged with his answer. “It’s one of my goals to be one of the best players, one of the best defensive linemen,” Williams said, per Cimini. “When that comes, then I think the money comes with it.”

Williams has completed three NFL seasons, meaning he is now eligible for an extension. The former sixth overall selection, Williams earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2016 and graded as the No. 21 interior defender in 2017, per Pro Football Focus. He’s appeared in all 48 possible games during his career, and last season posted two sacks and 22 tackles in 16 starts.

Thus far, no member of the 2015 draft class has inked an extension.

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AFC East Notes: Jets, Pryor, Dolphins

New Jets wide receiver Terrelle Pryor recently underwent a scope on his knee, as first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Per head coach Todd Bowles, it will be “close” as to whether Pryor will be available for training camp, tweets Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. While reports on Pryor seem positive, any injury is worth noting for the ex-Browns and Redskins wideout. Pryor underwent ankle surgery last November and missed the remainder of what was already a disappointing campaign in Washington, and subsequently dealt with another, unrelated ankle issue last month. If Pryor is forced to miss any time, fellow receivers Chad Hansen, ArDarius Stewart, or Andre Roberts could conceivably see more action.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Defensive tackle Leonard Williams is under the Jets‘ control through the 2019 campaign thanks to his fifth-year option, and the former first-round pick isn’t concerned about his next contract, as Brian Costello of the New York Post writes. “The contract’s going to come,” Williams said. “There’s no pressure for it. I’m not like thirsty for it or anything like that. I just want to keep working hard and keep focusing on year by year and just making myself the best possible and helping my team be the best possible, and the money will come.” Williams, who will earn a combined total of roughly $17MM over the next two years, graded as the NFL’s No. 21 interior defender in 2017, per Pro Football Focus. He’s eligible for an extension now, but New York hasn’t made any known contractual overtures.
  • A number of Jets players — including rookie tight end Chris Herndon, linebacker Dylan Donahue, and perhaps most infamously, wide receiver Robby Anderson — have been in legal hot water in recent months, but Bowles doesn’t think the club’s string of arrests is much of an issue. “It’s not a Jets problem or a league problem. It’s a nationwide problem,” Bowles said, as Costello writes in a separate piece. “We deal with them on a daily basis as they come. We talk about [how] we’re against them. You know you’re against certain things. Things happen in your 20s and we treat them on an individual basis and you move by.” As Costello notes, the majority of the Jets’ legal troubles have stopped following initial arrests, as most charges in these cases have been reduced or dropped.
  • The Dolphins recently picked up $17MM in salary cap space when Ndamukong Suh‘s contract officially came off the books on June 1, and while much of that money will be used to sign the rest of the club’s draft class, or put away for roster emergencies, Miami could utilize some of that cash on a cornerback upgrade, as Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald opines. Although the Dolphins recently locked up slot corner Bobby McCain on a four-year extension, they could still use another outside defensive back to play opposite Xavien Howard. As Salguero notes, Adam Jones, Jeremy Lane, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are among the veteran defenders still available, as are Bashaud Breeland, Delvin Breaux, and Kayvon Webster.

Jets Pick Up Leonard Williams’ Fifth-Year Option

It’s official. The New York Jets announced this morning (via Twitter) that they’ve picked up defensive lineman Leonard Williams‘ fifth-year option. We heard earlier this month that the organization would pick up the option before the May 3rd deadline.

Williams was already under contract for an affordable $2.975MM in 2018, but as our own Zach Links pointed out, it’s uncertain what kind of money he’ll be making in 2019. After all, the 23-year-old has spent time at defensive end and defensive tackle, so he could realistically be listed at either position.

The fifth-year option for former top-10 picks is similar to the transition tag, so Williams’ 2019 salary will be based on the top-10 salaries at his respective position. Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com believes that Williams’ salary could come in around $14.2MM. Regardless, his listed 2019 salary might soon be irrelevant, as the two sides could still agree to a long-term extension.

The former first-rounder out of USC hasn’t missed a game since entering the league in 2015. After compiling seven sacks en route to a Pro Bowl birth in 2016, Williams’ numbers took a bit of a hit in 2017. The lineman ultimately finished the campaign with 47 tackles and two sacks in 16 games, both career-lows. However, Williams still graded out as a top-25 defensive tackle last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

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