NY Jets restructure linebacker Avery Williamson’s contract

NY Jets, Avery Williamson (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
NY Jets, Avery Williamson (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets have restructured the contract of linebacker Avery Williamson.

The NY Jets have been excited about the return of linebacker Avery Williamson in 2020 as he continued to recover from a serious knee injury. And now, he’s set to play under a restructured contract this season.

As first reported by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Jets and Williamson agreed to a restructured deal worth $3.5 million this season which includes $1 million in guarantees. The move will save the Jets $3 million in cash as well as $3.75 million in cap space, per Pelissero.

Williamson is set to enter the final year of a three-year, $22.5 million contract he signed with the Jets back in the 2018 offseason. His base salary was cut from $6.5 million to just $2.75 million while his total cap hit was dropped to $4.75 million.

So Williamson’s cap hit drops significantly, but he will be eligible to make up to $5 million in total incentives — a risk/reward play for the talented linebacker.

The Jets now have over $35 million in cap space at the moment, but it seems unlikely that the team will use most or really any of it this season.

General manager Joe Douglas, perhaps with some influence from ownership, has shied away from spending big money this offseason and it’s likely the team allows that cap space to roll over into next year as opposed to spending it now.

Nonetheless, this move makes sense from the Jets’ perspective given Williamson’s status on the team and his previously sizable cap hit.

What does this mean for the NY Jets and Avery Williamson?

The 28-year-old has worked primarily with the second-team defense since returning from his torn ACL and while some of that is likely a product of the Jets easing him back into playing condition, there could be more to it.

Neville Hewitt and Blake Cashman have been the first-team linebackers throughout camp and each has performed quite well. With Williamson not even guaranteed a starting job, it didn’t make sense for the Jets to keep him around at his previous salary.

This move allows the Jets to keep Williamson at a much more affordable price, even if he isn’t going to be a Week 1 starter. The former Tennessee Titans’ linebacker is a popular locker room presence and certainly above-average depth if healthy.

Even if Williamson does end up starting Week 1 — which is still very possible — the Jets have now found a way to save a little bit of cap space that could roll over into next year. Every dollar counts.

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Short-term, this secures Williamson’s roster spot that was a little bit in doubt this summer. And in the long-term, it helps create even more financial flexibility.