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Free Agency

Marcus Williams is a perfect high-profile free agent target for the NY Jets

By Kristen Wong
NY Jets, Marcus Williams
NY Jets, Marcus Williams / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages
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If the NY Jets want to go all-in on a free agent this offseason, safety Marcus Williams would give the Jets a near-guaranteed return on their investment.

The New Orleans Saints safety was hit with a franchise tag for 2021 but is set to become an unrestricted free agent this season. With the Saints' cap troubles, Williams may have outpriced his stay in New Orleans and could command a hefty contract elsewhere.

His current market value, per Spotrac, is estimated at a five-year, roughly $75 million deal, comparable to the deals of Cardinals safety Budda Baker or Seahawks safety Jamal Adams (we still get a laugh out of that one).

The Jets are projected to have around $40 million in available cap for 2022, so Williams' estimated $15 million a year salary would take up nearly half of New York's cap (although they will likely create more cap space). Would such a sizable deal be worth it?

For the Jets, absolutely. Williams fills a major position of need at safety, as the team will likely be looking for two new starters this season.

Lamarcus Joyner and Marcus Maye are both set to be free agents and likely won't be re-signed. Other than an underwhelming Ashtyn Davis, the Jets only have young, developmental products like Jason Pinnock and Elijah Riley at the position.

NY Jets should empty their pockets to sign safety Marcus Williams in 2022

New York can find a safety with one of their many picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, but the Jets don't need more moldable players in the backfield — they need an experienced star.

Williams has five years of experience in New Orleans and has recorded at least two interceptions every season. In 2021, he formed part of the nucleus of the Saints' Super Bowl-caliber defense, posting a career-high 74 tackles along with eight passes defended and one forced fumble.

As Maye's replacement, Williams is solidly starting-caliber material and has a healthy track record to boot, playing in at least 14 games in each season.

Signing Williams would allow the Jets to continue grooming Pinnock and Riley while also getting an immediate upgrade in the defensive backfield.

New York finished 30th in the league in passing yards allowed last season, and if the Jets are serious about rebuilding their defense for 2022, Williams could be the face of that change.

All this, of course, hinges on Williams actually becoming available on the open market.

Next. 2022 NFL Mock Draft: NY Jets build around Zach Wilson, 3 QBs in the first round. dark

The Jets should in general be wary of overspending on free agents and wasting cap space, but Marcus Williams poses as one of those rare, franchise-elevating players who could find a lasting home in New York. He's worth every penny.

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