The Jets don’t plan on letting The Big Cat go anywhere anytime soon.
Gang Green intends to pick up the defensive lineman’s fifth-year option before the May 3 deadline, according to a source. The brain trust has high expectations for the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 draft entering this critical next phase of their rebuilding process.
Williams, who will turn 24 this summer, will make $2.975 million in 2018. His fifth-year option salary will be the average of the top 10 players at his position. The Jets assume no risk by exercising the option, which is only guaranteed for injury right now. It won’t be fully guaranteed until the start of the 2019 league year (next March).
The Jets technically could make Williams play on the franchise tag in 2020, but the organization would like to sign him to an extension sooner as long as he continues on his current path, according to sources.
Williams, who will turn 24 in June, could conceivably get a new deal before playing on the fifth-year option. (Spoiler: That’s probably going to happen.) The Jets, who would love to sign Williams to a team-friendly deal sooner rather than later, have more than $100 million in salary cap space next year.
Either way, the organization is placing its faith in Williams, who played the first half of last season with a nagging wrist injury suffered in the preseason. Although Williams had only two sacks in 2017, he collected 25 quarterback hits. He has 65 quarterback hits and 12 sacks in his first three seasons.
Williams played in the Pro Bowl after his seven-sack 2016 campaign.