Times are changing for the New York Jets. If the Aaron Rodgers acquisition wasn’t the clearest example of that, the latest piece of news from Florham Park should do it.
It had been over a decade since the last time the Jets had agreed to a second contract with one of their high draft picks. Now, Quinnen Williams’ latest $96 million extension isn’t just a sign of stability in New York but also shows the increase in talent that the team has acquired over the last few seasons.
Previous management groups for the Jets would have had a prolonged contract dispute that ended in a stunning trade or full-scale rebuild. Whether it’s Jamal Adams, Wilkerson or Leonard Williams, previous signs of ineptitude were a big reason for the decade-long playoff drought that has been hovering over 1 Jets Drive.
But under Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas, the team knew they couldn’t let a young, home-grown prospect leave or be disgruntled in the long term.
Williams’ extension is a win-win for both parties. The former Alabama prospect received the second most per-year money among defensive tackles and gets a four-year deal. That means he will hit free agency again in 2027 – when he turns 30 years old. With improved play and an increase in the cap, Williams could be in for an even larger payday later on in his career, while continuing to dominate in a good defensive scheme with other dominant players.
For the Jets, they lock up their best defensive player before training camp and the hoopla that HBO’s Hard Knocks brings in under a week. The distraction of a potential contract stand-off could have been detrimental to Gang Green’s quest for a championship. It also reinforces that the team is willing to make any move necessary to win at this point – a clear sign to their old, but still talented starting quarterback. It sends a message to other players around the league that New York is willing to pay good players and keep those that have shown the ability to excel at each position.
Another point is that the front office has also shown a distinct knowledge of the positions of value across the NFL. Their cross-town rival New York Giants is currently engaged in a contract dispute with running back Saquon Barkley. The running back position has been massively devalued over the years but due to the importance Barkley has on the roster, there isn’t really a situation where Big Blue would come out as a clear winner. The fact that a top overall pick was used on a running back has continued to haunt the Giants over the years. The Jets, on the other hand, are relishing the fact that they used a top pick on the type of player that most franchises only dream of having in their treasure chest.
A stark contrast even if the Giants are the team with the most recent playoff victory.
Gone are the days when embarrassing contract negotiations are made public by the Jets. Gone are the times when the team is in the news for all the wrong reasons. If there’s a clear takeaway from Thursday’s deal, it’s that New York is back and ready to roll as a competent football organization.