FLORHAM PARK — Many members of the New York Jets weren’t surprised last season when Quinnen Williams went through his career-high breakout.
12 sacks, a First-Team All-Pro, and a lucrative extension have since followed the third overall pick, leaving everyone in 1 Jets Drive happy heading into the first days of training camp.
“It felt good. It felt good to be back with my brothers, back with the team. It was a rush of emotions. Just can’t wait to start this journey,” Williams said Wednesday morning. “Just talking to Joe every day, we were always on the same page.
Williams may have not had doubts that a long-term extension would have been made, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing between the former Alabama prospect and the Jets’ front office. He missed voluntary OTA workouts while also firing some cryptic social media posts throughout the negotiation process. Through all the difficulties of being in contract negotiations in the modern world though, Williams was also still able to remain in shape while welcoming his newborn daughter to the family just last month.
“It was hard (being away from the team). Not being able to be there really hurt me. But training, working out, I took it to a whole other level because I knew when I got back that I wanted to be on my ‘A’ game,” Williams explained.
At just 25 years old, Williams is considered one of the best young defensive players in the game today. Now the second-highest-paid defensive tackle in football, the Jets have certainly rewarded his breakout season with the kind of money most players dream of. But there have been some players throughout NFL history that have received large contract extensions, and then sit on their laurels for the rest of their career.
That’s not the type of player Williams wants to be remembered as. He’s come into camp at the same weight he was last season, while also continuing to improve his on-the-field work as well.
“One of my coaches told me that ‘money makes a person who they already are’… My main thing is not the money, it’s the legacy. Being out there with my brothers and putting my best foot forward to help them and myself get better is what I’m focused on,” said Williams.
It’s those kinds of things that make the rest of the Jets’ defense excited to reach new heights in 2023.
“I didn’t have any doubt it wasn’t going to get done but I’m very happy and excited for him. Now that we got that out of the way, we can focus on football,” CJ Mosley stated.
The focus for Williams and a unit full of All-Pro potential has turned to the start of training camp where they will get to work first-hand against a Hall-of-Fame quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. Williams and the defense have acknowledged that the experience Rodgers brings to the fold will only help their unit in the long run. One of those defensive teammates just so happens to be his older brother who also signed a long-term extension with the Jets during the offseason.
“It’s pretty cool but it’s really nothing special. It was pretty cool to get paid and see him be here for the next three years,” the younger Williams brother explained. “Seeing him get paid and get what he deserved was a big thing.”
The new father knows that the respect between him and the organization is as good as it has ever been. It also certainly seems that the new $96 million contract extension will certainly erase any forms of distractions that could have been an issue. Now, it’s all about preparing for the start of the 2023 season.
“There’s a lot of stuff I want to improve. I want to take my game to the next level: to 18-23 weeks instead of 17 weeks,” Williams explained. “I definitely feel I haven’t scratched the surface on what I can become.”