Jets' Robert Saleh confident of Quinnen Williams deal by camp

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Wednesday, June 7, 2023

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- For weeks, the New York Jets have expressed optimism about their chances of signing star defensive tackle Quinnen Williams to a contract extension. They took it up another notch Tuesday, with coach Robert Saleh stating matter-of-factly that Williams -- absent for voluntary workouts -- will report to training camp with a new deal.

"I speak for everyone -- I probably speak for Quinnen -- in that we all want get done sooner rather than later," Saleh before practice. "I'll let the business guys handle all that stuff, but it's going to get done. He'll be here for camp. He'll be ready to roll and once he is, I'm sure it'll be the same guy who was here."

The question of whether Williams will report to next week's mandatory minicamp is moot, as Saleh announced he was cancelling it. He cited the early reporting date for training camp as the main reason, saying he wants to give the players a break after a productive offseason.

Because they play in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 3 -- they face the Cleveland Browns in Canton, Ohio -- the Jets will open camp a week earlier than usual. A date hasn't been announced, but it will be around July 19.

Williams, 25, due to make a guaranteed $9.6 million in the final year of his contract (his fifth-year option), said after the season that he wouldn't report until he receives a contract extension. He has, in fact, stayed away from all voluntary workouts, more than once expressing frustration on social media.

The two sides have talked sporadically throughout the offseason, with team officials giving positive updates at each turn.

The defensive tackle market has exploded in recent months, with Jeffery Simmons (Tennessee Titans), Dexter Lawrence (New York Giants) and Daron Payne (Washington Commanders) landing extensions in the range of $22.5 million to $23.5 million per year. Aaron Donald (Los Angeles Rams) is the highest-paid defensive tackle at $31.7 million per year.

Williams, coming off a 12-sack season that resulted in him being named first-team All-Pro, is thought to be seeking at least $23.5 million a year.

Meanwhile, quarterback Aaron Rodgers has returned to practice after missing more than a week with a strained right calf. Rodgers participated in all drills, except the 11-on-11 period.

Even though the practices are noncontact, Saleh said he wanted to keep Rodgers out of harm's way in full-team drills. Saleh didn't cancel minicamp because of the Rodgers injury; he made the decision several weeks ago.

With the media watching Rodgers practice for the first time, the four-time NFL MVP participated in two 7-on-7 periods, showing no ill effects. Wearing a sleeve on his injured calf, he completed five of eight attempts, including a drop. In a red-zone period, he misfired on a short pass to tight end C.J. Uzomah, but responded with a back-shoulder completion to wide receiver Garrett Wilson for a touchdown.

Rodgers' teammates continued to rave about his positive impact on the team and its outlook.

"The room is buzzing right now -- the building is buzzing -- and it's buzzing for a reason," defensive tackle Solomon Thomas said. "You bring in a solidified Hall of Famer like Aaron Rodgers and it's going to change some things. His leadership, his knowledge, the way he plays the game -- you know he's going to put up points and you know he's going to play smart football. It brings a whole new youthfulness around this team, even for the vets."

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