The New York Jets not only signed Quinnen Williams to a massive contract extension Thursday, but they also guaranteed him more money than anyone in franchise history.
The All-Pro defensive tackle agreed to a four-year, $96 million deal, with a whopping $66 million guaranteed. That tops the $51 million guarantee the Jets gave linebacker C.J. Mosley in 2019.
Williams is now the second highest paid defensive tackle in the NFL in average annual value. Aaron Donald of the Rams averages $31.7 million per season; Williams sits at $24 million.
nice little finish to the offseason, don’t ya think? pic.twitter.com/eXvbDQwDn9
— New York Jets (@nyjets) July 14, 2023
That clearly was a goal of Williams after his breakout 2022 season. He waited for other comparable defensive linemen to sign this offseason before getting his deal done. And it paid off.
Williams earned his payday after an outstanding 2022 season. Clearly the Jets believe his trajectory is pointed up. And they trust in the person as well as the player. Williams is a solid citizen, popular in the locker room, a leader on the field and respected by teammates and coaches alike.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t reason for the Jets to be concerned moving forward.
Let’s examine why the Jets are taking a major risk with the massive Quinnen Williams contract.
Quinnen Williams received a lot of money for one great season
It’s easy to forget that Williams was considered a good, but not great, player prior to the 2022 season. In fact, in some corners he was thought to be somewhat of a disappointment. Many experts wondered “Is that all there is?” after his first three NFL seasons.
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 draft made little impact as a rookie and was better the next two seasons. Pro Football Focus handed him so-so overall grades in 2019 (67.4) and 2021 (64.4), though his pass-rushing grades in 2020 (77.7) and 2021 (70.7) were good.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) July 13, 2023
Playing on some bad Jets teams, Williams totaled 13 sacks in 28 games from 2020-21 and his success against the run was considered average. Not to be overlooked, though, was how Williams consistently took on double teams, as opponents were focusing on shutting him down and less concerned by others making plays on the Jets defense.
Last season, Williams was an absolute game wrecker. He unleashed his massive potential and had 12 sacks, 52 QB pressures, two forced fumbles and 55 tackles. He was selected to the Pro Bowl, named All-Pro and received one first place vote as NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
All that and more will be expected of him moving forward, especially with the huge contract to live up to. Can he replicate his dominant 2022 self and even improve as he reaches his prime years? Or was last season the best the Jets will get from Williams?
Injury threat adds risk to massive Quinnen Williams contract
The Jets need to look no further than Mosley to see how risky it is to guarantee big bucks to a player, even an elite one. Mosley sustained a serious groin injury in his first game with New York. He played one more game the rest of that 2019 season. True, the veteran linebacker rebounded to be the Jets leading tackler the past two seasons (after skipping the 2020 season due to concerns about the coronavirus), but his first season is a note of caution.
It’s the NFL. Players get hurt all the time. Careers are cut short. So, any major investment in one individual comes with serious risk.
A big day for @QuinnenWilliams and a big day for our organization.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) July 13, 2023
Williams plays an extremely demanding position and has missed nine games in four NFL seasons. The 6-foot-3, 303-pound lineman is far from injury prone and keeps himself in excellent shape. But things happen. He sustained a foot fracture during offseason workouts ahead of the 2021 season, for example.
That’s not to say the Jets made a mistake in locking up Williams. It’s more stating the obvious that they’ll require a bit of luck keeping their stud lineman healthy for the duration of his contract. And not cashing some big checks while rehabbing a serious injury.
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