Quinnen Williams hadn’t been shy in letting the New York Jets know he wanted a contract extension this offseason. Whether it was through cryptic social media tactics, avoiding voluntary workouts, or straight up letting the team know he wanted a new deal, it seemed like the Jets needed to sign their star defensive tackle to an extension before the start of the 2023 campaign.
Sure enough, after months of waiting, the two sides managed to reach an agreement on Thursday afternoon. Williams put pen to paper on a massive four-year, $96 million extension with the Jets that ensured he would remain a key piece of their up-and-coming defense for the foreseeable future.
Both sides get what they want here, so it may not even be an exaggeration to label this deal a win-win before even looking at the numbers. But it’s worth wondering whether or not this deal will hold up when taking a closer look. So with that in mind, let’s take a deep dive into this extension and hand out a final grade for this extension.
Grading Quinnen Williams extension with the Jets
Williams is set to enter his fifth season in the NFL in 2023, and it’s safe to say that his first three seasons in the league left a lot to be desired. Williams wasn’t necessarily bad, but considering how he was the third overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Jets were likely hoping to see more production from him than they got to start his NFL career.
That all changed in 2022, when Williams absolutely broke out and was arguably the best player on New York’s dominant defensive unit. Williams put together the best statistical season of his career (55 tackles, 12 sacks, 12 TFL, 28 QB hits, 4 PD, 2 FF, 1 FR) and earned his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection (first team All-Pro, nonetheless) and finished seventh in the league’s Defensive Player of the Year voting.
Given how Williams was heading into the fifth and final year of his rookie deal with New York, he couldn’t have timed his breakout season any better. Williams entered the offseason looking to secure a big extension from the Jets, and while it took longer than the two sides would have liked, they finally came to an agreement.
The peripherals of this deal make a lot of sense from a Jets perspective. You can make an argument that Williams was the best interior defensive lineman in the entire league last year, with only Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs potentially coming in ahead of him. Williams is also still just 25 years old, and will be in the prime of his career throughout the entirety of this deal.
Are there question marks that pop up here? Of course there are. Williams is getting paid to play like he did in 2022, which was a level he hadn’t come close to matching in any of his first three seasons of the league. Williams has established himself as a star already, but it’s fair to expect some sort of regression, as minor as it may be, in 2023.
We can also see that Williams is getting paid a boatload of money now. His average annual value of $24 million on this deal puts him behind only Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams in terms of earnings by a defensive tackle. Is Williams actually better than all the folks he suddenly finds himself getting paid more than?
These concerns would be more daunting if Williams was older or had some sort of injury concerns, but he doesn’t. As previously noted, Williams is only 25, and won’t turn 26 until early in December. He’s also played in 57 of 66 possible contests he’s been in the league for, which is particularly encouraging given the wear and tear linemen can endure in the trenches.
Final Grade: A-
The money is the main concern with this deal, but realistically speaking, this is a very good piece of business for the Jets. Williams’ ceiling has been set with his play last season, and while he may not hit those heights every year, he should be a Pro-Bowl caliber player every season moving forward.
Putting Williams’ deal in perspective, it’s worth noting that Jones on the Chiefs is also likely going to get an extension that will surpass Williams’ deal in terms of yearly salary. Jones just turned 29, and while he has the consistent year-over-year production that Williams doesn’t, there’s a very good chance that the Jets will like this deal even more after Jones gets paid.
Locking up superstars who are only 25 years old in the NFL is tough because of the money required, but the Jets did well to keep Williams in town after his dynamite 2022 season. You could give this deal a B+ if you don’t like the money, but if he plays anywhere close to the level we saw last year, Williams will make the massive price tag that came with this deal seem like pennies and change for New York.
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