quinnen williams jets
Jasen Vinlove | USA TODAY Sports

The bulk of the Jets optimism is driven by Joe Douglas’ NFL draft moves as general manager. But one of Mike Maccagnan’s final acts as GM also factors into their long-term plans.

ESPN national reporter Jeremy Fowler expects the Jets will look to lock down defensive tackle Quinnen Williams sooner rather than later. He writes:

Williams can wreck a game plan, and he proved to be a good fit for Robert Saleh’s defense. He posted six sacks and three pass deflections last year. The Jets will likely start to look at extension options for the 303-pound defensive tackle.

Maccagnan took Williams with the No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft, weeks before he was fired. Durability has been a bit of a concern — he has missed eight games in three seasons — but Williams has been a very good player and has 13 combined sacks in the last two years. It was a no-brainer for the Jets to pick up his fifth-year option for 2023 this spring, which they did.

It will be interesting to see what a Williams extension looks like. He is scheduled to make $11.5 million next season with the option. That puts him in the same ballpark as a guy like former Giants defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, now with the Vikings. And that feels about right for Williams at this point in his career — maybe he’s worth a bit more given his pass rush production.

But if he has a big 2022 season? Things could get interesting. The Jets won’t have to immediately pay if Williams takes off this season and pushes for Fletcher Cox- or Leonard Williams-level money. They still have the option year as a buffer. But then you run the risk of a contract standoff or being forced to use the franchise tag in 2024. That isn’t the end of the world, of course. But cap space is cap space, especially when you may also be looking to lock up quarterback Zach Wilson (and left tackle Mekhi Becton?) at the same time.

These are good problems to have, though. And it is noteworthy the Jets want to invest in Williams. There is a reason you see good defensive tackles sign big free agent deals every March: Most teams do not place as big an emphasis on the position and are willing to let their drafted talent walk if the price gets too high in order to allocate resources elsewhere. The Jets are expected to do the opposite here.

James Kratch can be reached at james.kratch@xlmedia.com


James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.