The New York Jets don’t just have to extend defensive tackle Quinnen Williams because of his importance to the team, they need to do it to lower his cap number in 2023.
Most covering the team agree that it’s a necessary step of the offseason, including The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt, who asked Pro Football Focus cap expert Brad Spielberger to revisit the matter during a January 30th article. The PFF analyst used the opportunity to offer the rising star a bit of advice.
“I know it’s a leverage play,” Spielberger commented on Williams’ end of season ultimatum to get a new contract done before Organized Team Activities (OTAs). “But I’d be surprised if that’s actually the case unless they give him a ridiculous deal. … If he’s smart — and I know [his agent] is smart — wait until August when everyone else has signed.”
To add some context, Spielberger told Rosenblatt that several defensive tackles are expected to cash in on new deals in either free agency or via extension. Those players include Dexter Lawrence (New York Giants), Jeffery Simmons (Tennessee Titans), Christian Wilkins (Miami Dolphins), and free agents Daron Payne (Washington Commanders) and Javon Hargrave (Philadelphia Eagles). I’d throw Kansas City Chiefs game-wrecker Chris Jones into that extension conversation as well.
If Williams waits until August, he’d likely be able to one-up those DTs and secure more money long-term, being that he beat most of these players out for first-team All-Pro in 2022.
Brad Spielberger Joins Heavy on Jets, Projects Quinnen Williams’ Contract Extension
Ironically, Spielberger had a similar discussion with Heavy on Jets’ own Paul Esden Jr. on January 27.
“I definitely remember, because I remember Jets fans being mad at me saying it was way too much,” Spielberger told Esden when asked if he recalls the extension he projected for Williams before his All-Pro season.
“You have to understand that a lot of that when you bake it in — especially with top-10 picks, first round players — is [a] projection, is ‘what is this guy going to do with his next season,” he explained. “When I watched Quinnen Williams’ tape, his first couple of years but particularly that third season, I said this is a guy that’s about to break out and become — I’m not some genius — but become one of the best interior defenders in the entire NFL, and I think everyone would agree he’s now in that conversation.”
Spielberger then got to his projections (both before and after 2022):
- Before 2022: Five years, $105 million ($21 million per year).
- After 2022/Now: Five years, $125 million ($25 million per year).
He also reiterated that if Williams waits on guys like Simmons and Lawrence to get a pay raise ahead of the 2023 campaign, he’s more likely to get $25 million per year rather than $24 million or something just under that mark.
None of these D-tackles are expected to catch Aaron Donald’s absurd $31.6 million per year, however — at least not in 2023.
Quinnen Williams’ Ultimatum Could Benefit the Jets
If you’re following this entire discussion, you may have already put two and two together that Williams’ end-of-year ultimatum would actually benefit the Jets organization. Spielberger is recommending he wait until August but if the 25-year-old defender wants to get this done early and not worry about it, general manager Joe Douglas should start writing that check tomorrow.
Unless you plan on trading away Williams, there’s no scenario where waiting helps the Green & White financially. In other words, if you’re going to pay the man, pay him quickly.
This would also help with a quarterback acquisition like Aaron Rodgers or Derek Carr — which could theoretically happen soon. A backloaded Williams extension would clear some of that cap space out immediately and focus on securing the veteran QB this team needs.
Rosenblatt estimated that a “new contract could reduce [Williams’] 2023 cap hit ($9.59 million) by a few million” in a scenario where Douglas pushes the larger hits into later years.