Jets general manager Joe Douglas affirmed the Green & White future of a key player on the defensive line -- Quinnen Williams -- and said that he hopes to re-sign a fan favorite and sparkplug on offense and special teams -- Braxton Berrios.
"As of right now, we are going to pick up Quinnen's options," Douglas said at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "We had that conversation, and I don't think that's really huge news. But we are going to pick up that [fifth-year] option and look, we're excited to have Quinnen. This is going to be Year 2 in a defense that we feel really accentuates his strengths, his positives and looking forward to him coming back and dominate this offseason and have a great year."
Williams, the No. 3 overall draft pick in 2019 out of Alabama, is now locked in with the Jets through 2023. He is also eligible for a new contract, which Douglas said is currently under discussion with his representative.
During the 2021 NFL season, Williams played in 15 games and was third on the team with 6 sacks, 7 tackles for loss and 12 QB hits. He also contributed 42 stops on the run, which was 25th among defensive linemen. In his three professional seasons, he has 15.5 sacks, 21 TFLs and 32 QB hits in 37 starts.
After the Jets completed the season at Buffalo, Williams said: "I have to take that extra step to become the player I need to be and to become the player I know I can be. I feel like I'm on the right direction, but it's time to start taking over games and start being that dominant tackle that I know I can be. I'm up there probably top 10 with D tackles in stats, but I got higher goals and standards. I need to start being that person to help the defense and help the team win more games by the explosive and electric plays that I know I can make."
Berrios, who has an expiring contract after three seasons with the Jets, emerged this season as the team's No. 1 kickoff/punt returner while also contributing on offense. In a contract year, the All-Pro returner had the third-most kickoff return yards (852) and led the league with the highest average per return (30.4 yards, minimum 20 returns). Overall, he had 46 pass receptions for 431 yards with four total offensive touchdowns and a kick return TD (102 yards against Jacksonville). He raised his game as a receiver late in the season, stepping up when Corey Davis, Elijah Moore and Jamison Crowder were idle because of injuries. In the thrilling matchup against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay, Berrios caught 8 passes for 65 yards with a rushing TD and a TD reception.
"With Braxton, I've had some good conversations with his representation Drew [Rosenhaus]," Douglas said. "We're going to have more conversations. And so obviously Braxton has been awesome since we brought him in [off waivers from New England]. And he's an asset to this team. And for us, it's going to be important to keep the guys that do things the right way and carry themselves the right way."
Follow the Leaders?
Head coach Robert Saleh has often referred to the NFL as a "copycat league." In other words, if a successful team or teams perfect an approach, other teams are likely to follow.
Douglas on Wednesday said nothing to contradict his coach.
"Any team that has success, you become inquisitive and want to know the whys and dig in," Douglas said. "You've seen teams have success devoting a lot to skill [players] early, and by the way I think Cincy did a great job in free agency last year as well, and they didn't blow the doors off in terms of signing super high-priced guys. They brought in guys that fit exactly what they wanted to do.
"You look at teams like Buffalo, and teams like the [Super Bowl champion] Rams who obviously traded a lot of picks to get to where they were. I think the constant theme was building around a young quarterback or adding the quarterback and the best way to go about helping that quarterback … and there's a lot of different ways to do it."
Open for Business
Oodles of draft capital and oodles of dollars to spend within the NFL's salary cap puts the Jets in an enviable position, with flexibility to sign free agents, bulk up with draft picks, or use some picks to trade for proven, impactful players.
"We're going to get this team better any avenue we can," Douglas said. "If the right opportunity presents itself in the trade market, we're ready to strike."
According to Overthecap.com, the Jets have the fifth-most flexibility with $48 million under the cap, a number that could increase if the team decides not to retain additional players. When it comes to the draft, the team is sitting with picks No. 4 and No, 10 in the first round and No. 35 and No. 38 in the second round -- nine selections overall.
"It's a great opportunity with us currently with picks 4 and 10 and four picks in the top 40," Douglas said. "We have a real opportunity to add four dynamic difference-makers to this team."
He added: "If there's an opportunity to trade back, accumulate more picks, more assets and still be in target range to get the players that we're excited about, of course we're going to do that.
"We have a lot of work to do. The work that we've done last year, the work that we've done leading up to this offseason there's been a lot of trust. I'm just excited to get this thing going. I can't wait for the start of the league year."gue year."