New Mega-Contract Sets Floor for Important Jets’ Negotiations

Vita Vea Bucs

Getty Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Vita Vea celebrating with the fans after an emotional win.

Late on Saturday evening, January 8, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers agreed to a monster contract extension with defensive lineman Vita Vea worth up to $73 million over the next four seasons, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The 26-year-old still had one year left on his contract through 2022, but this new mega-deal will now keep him in Tampa through the 2026 campaign.

This massive contract could have some pretty big ripple effects with the New York Jets and their future negotiations with Quinnen Williams that are eligible to start this offseason.

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Both Sides Watched This Deal Very Intently

When Vea’s contract went public, both general manager Joe Douglas and Williams’ representatives likely gave the deal a very close evaluation.

Vea is in the midst of his fourth professional season with the Bucs after being selected with the No. 12 overall pick in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft.

In that time span, he has accumulated 11.5 sacks, 31 quarterback hits, and over 104 combined tackles. Although he is best known for his ability to plug up holes in the running game.

Over the last two seasons the Bucs led the league in rush defense and currently this season they rank third in that category.

For that productivity, Vea received $73 million with $42 million of that guaranteed, per Schefter.

A Strong Case Can Be Made That Is the Floor

Williams likely views this Vea contract as a starting floor for his negotiations with the Jets. In his three seasons to date (he is one year behind the Bucs’ star), the former Alabama stud has been even more dominant:

  • 15.5 sacks
  • 32 quarterback hits
  • 133 combined tackles

In 40 career games, Williams already has more sacks, QB hits, and combined tackles than Vea has had in 49 career games. That is absolutely insane.

Williams has two more years left on his contract, but he is eligible to start negotiating an extension starting this offseason.

It would behoove the green and white to be proactive because there is a slight chance they can get him at a discount if they can sign him sooner rather than later.

If they decide to wait (or Williams’ agent does), there is a chance Q could blow up in 2022 with a healthy Carl Lawson and a combination of future draft picks and free agents.

That would mean Williams could ask for even more money.

In a Twitter conversation with Bucs and NFL analyst Jon Ledyard, he believes with a big year in 2022, Williams “could match or beat this [Vea] deal.”

He also added that if he was advising Williams “I’m not going to the table this offseason unless the Jets start HIGH and I don’t think they will.”

Douglas is a calculated man, but he understands how important it is to reward your own guys and keep them in the building. That is especially true when your head coach (Robert Saleh) prides himself on his pass rush, adding an even greater level of importance to retain talent like Williams.

This should be a fascinating offseason storyline to watch as the negotiating window officially this offseason.

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