New York Jets: Avery Williamson appears unlikely to return in 2020
By Justin Fried
New York Jets linebacker Avery Williamson could find himself as a cap casualty in the offseason if the team feels comfortable moving on from the veteran.
Avery Williamson‘s first year with the New York Jets went about as well as anyone could have expected. After four seasons with the Tennessee Titans, Williamson signed a three-year, $22.5 million contract with the Jets prior to the start of the 2018 season.
And in his first year with his new team. Williamson set a new career-high in tackles with a team-leading 120. On top of that, the versatile linebacker added three sacks, an interception, six pass deflections, and two forced fumbles to complete a stellar first season in New York.
Going into 2019, hopes were high that the returning Williamson could pair up with the newly-signed C.J. Mosley and make for one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t exactly gone according to plan for multiple reasons.
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Before Mosley sustained a groin injury that would keep him out for pretty much all of the season up until this point, Williamson suffered a torn ACL in the second game of the preseason sidelining him for all of 2019.
It was a major blow to the Jets defense but one that they’ve surprisingly been able to handle quite well.
Injuries have mounted at linebacker, but the Jets have continued to play exceeding well on defense. The likes of Neville Hewitt, Blake Cashman, and James Burgess have stepped in and played very well in the absence of Mosley and Williamson.
And as a result, the Jets could determine that the latter is expendable.
Williamson’s three-year contract has a potential out after this season that would create $6.5 million in savings with only $2 million of dead cap. And that money could likely be better allocated at other more crucial positions such as along the offensive line or at cornerback.
It’s not as if Williamson hasn’t lived up to expectations, if anything it’s been the opposite. But in his absence, the Jets have shown that they can get by and even flourish with cheaper, less experienced options manning the middle of the defense.
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That’s partially a testament to defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and how he’s been able to scheme around certain players and maximize the talents of others. His entire defense has overachieved and that’s something that shouldn’t be understated.
But as long as Williams is calling the shots next season, the Jets will likely be comfortable rolling with a healthy Mosley and a combination of Hewitt, Cashman, and Burgess competing for the other starting spot.
Ideally, the Jets would like to see Cashman step up and secure the starting job as the fifth-round rookie showed flashes this season. But the reliable Hewitt and the surprisingly effective Burgess might be further along in development than he is.
Either way, it seems less and less likely that Avery Williamson will return in 2020.
He’s a very good player and he’s going to be a rock-solid starter wherever he ends up next season, but it’s unlikely that will be with the Jets.