Williams, Jets reach deal; rookie to report Friday

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Friday, July 26, 2019

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It took longer than expected, but the New York Jets have finalized a contract with third overall pick Quinnen Williams, the team announced Thursday.

Williams, the highest-drafted defensive player in Jets history, will sign a four-year contract for the slotted amount of $32.5 million, including a $21.7 million signing bonus. The deal includes the standard fifth-year team option.

The contract is fully guaranteed, as league rules stipulate.

Williams missed the first practice Thursday, but he should be on the field Friday for his training camp debut. The Jets tweeted a picture of Williams signing his contract Friday morning.

The negotiations ran into training camp because the two sides haggled over the signing bonus payment schedule.

Williams wanted to be paid in full in the first year of the contract, which is common for high draft picks. A year ago, quarterback Sam Darnold, who missed the first three practices due to a contract dispute, received his $20 million bonus within 15 days of signing.

In the end, the Jets and Williams reached a compromise. He will receive 75% of his bonus ($16.3 million) at signing, with the rest deferred to next season, a source confirmed to ESPN. Initially, the Jets proposed to defer more than 30%, which would've been the highest percentage of any of their first-round picks since the collective bargaining agreement went into effect in 2011.

"This is the norm," coach Adam Gase said Wednesday when asked about the contract standoff. "This happens when you get top-five picks. It takes time to go through these sometimes. We'll be all right."

It was a frustrating offseason for Williams, who pulled a calf muscle in the first OTA practice in late and missed a significant amount of time. He returned for the final two weeks of practice, but was limited in team drills and worked mainly with the second- and third-stringers. The Jets didn't want to rush him back, saying they wanted him at full strength for training camp.

The 6-foot-3, 305-pound defensive tackle has come a long way in a short time. A year ago, he was barely known at Alabama, let alone the rest of the country.

He didn't play much in his first two seasons for the Crimson Tide, but he exploded in 2018, finishing with 70 tackles, a team-high 18.5 tackles-for-loss and seven sacks. He won the Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior lineman and he was a unanimous All-America selection. Williams solidified his draft status with an impressive 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine: 4.83 seconds.

The Jets haven't indicated how they will use Williams, except to say his versatility will allow him to play multiple spots on the defensive line. He could wind up starting at nose tackle, unseating veteran Steve McLendon.

"They know I'm a great player," Williams said recently. "Anywhere they put me, I'm going to try to be the best for this team. If they put me on kickoff return, I'm going to go crazy and try to dominate."