New York Jets got it right with the Leonard Williams trade
By K. Jared Wright
The New York Jets officially unloaded defensive lineman Leonard Williams on Monday ending his five-year tenure in New York and the team got it right with this trade.
Coming off the heels of the NFL trade deadline, many players saw new homes. Additionally, rumors swirled for the New York Jets. While deals did not take place, names such as Le’Veon Bell, Jamal Adams, Robby Anderson, and Marcus Maye dominated the rumor mill.
The Jets certainly have many holes to fill and as it stands, will not be competitive for a very long time. General manager Joe Douglas and head coach Adam Gase certainly have their work cut out for themselves as they look to retool the roster to their liking.
They made strides towards that when they traded Leonard Williams to the New York Giants for a third-round pick in 2020 and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2021.
Leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, Williams was touted as one of the best players in the entirety of the class. The sixth overall pick of that draft was called a “Hall of Fame talent” by Charles Davis and possibly “the best player in this draft” by Gil Brandt.
In spite of his talent and production from when he was drafted through his first couple of seasons, Williams has fizzled out quite a bit. He started with high grades in Pro Football Focus but has gone through regression this year, with a 62.5 grade overall thus in 2019.
Douglas did the right thing and got the value he could for a player he had no allegiances to. If he was not willing to extend Williams (which he obviously was not), it was imperative that Douglas kick tires and gauge interest throughout the league.
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Rather than sign Williams to a lucrative extension or let him walk in free agency for nothing, Douglas was correct in getting value where he could, allowing him more flexibility in the 2020 NFL Draft.
In his first year of a six-year deal, trades like this are necessary to save money against the salary cap and allow a new regime to draft the players they want. The Jets got this move right.
Unlike previous regimes who have controlled the team in recent years, Gase and Douglas seem to be working in sync. Off the heels of an offseason where Douglas was not active in the decision-making process, he needs as many picks as possible in order to assemble what he can feel is his young nucleus.
Furthermore, if this future does not include investing an extensive sum of money in Williams, then they absolutely have to ship him out to the highest bidder in order to obtain as much draft capital as they can.
Of course, this does not spell immediate relief by any stretch.
Not only will the Jets be out a player who could possibly contribute for another team and they would have to watch this production from close proximity, but the team actually has to use these picks wherever they fall and make positive investments to acquire contributors to the team.
Douglas and Gase may not be done.
In their first offseason together we will get a true sense of their vision for how they see building the team, but the 2020 NFL Draft looks a little brighter with some more early draft capital.