The NY Jets have seen numerous defensive free agents sign with the team for less money this offseason. This is a product of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
The NY Jets have been waiting for years to become a desirable destination for free-agent targets. And while they certainly aren’t there yet, it appears as though one side of the ball has been covered.
The Jets entered the 2019 season with one of the least respected coaching staffs in the NFL. Outside of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, not a single member of the coaching staff had any prior head-coaching experience at either the collegiate or NFL level.
And it’s not as if head coach Adam Gase was held in high regard around the league either.
That combined with the franchise’s lack of success over the past decade or so left the Jets as one of the least desirable free-agent landing spots in the NFL — a distinction they have held for quite some time now.
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This often led to the Jets having to overpay to retain or sign the players that they wanted. However, something has evidently changed this offseason.
Instead of spending big on the top free agents on the market, the Jets have opted to go shopping for bargains landing a few excellent value deals along the way.
That’s a credit to new general manager Joe Douglas who has remained much stingier in his negotiations than the previous regime. But they’ve also had the advantage of a seemingly changed mindset regarding the Jets as a free-agent destination.
We’ll call this the Gregg Williams effect.
The Jets have needed to pay around market value for the few offensive players that they have signed. From George Fant to Breshad Perriman, Gang Green has certainly forked over their fair share of money to average-at-best offensive players.
But the deals they’ve managed to get on defense have been extraordinary.
Each of Brian Poole, Jordan Jenkins, and Pierre Desir was brought back on very cheap one-year, $5 million deals.
Poole was perhaps the NFL’s best nickel cornerback last season. Jenkins is 25-years-old and has 15 sacks over the past two seasons. And Desir is two years removed from an excellent season in which he was one of Pro Football Focus‘ top-20 cornerbacks.
They should have each been given multi-year deals for significantly more money on the open market. But one theme seems to be prevalent in each of the signings.
They wanted to play for Gregg Williams.
Jenkins reportedly had offers from the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens but decided to return to the Jets on a cheaper deal. Imagine that, two of the most respected organizations in football turned down in favor of taking less money to join the Jets.
Something like that seems unheard of, except when you realize who his coach was. Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News even reported that Williams was the reason Jenkins returned to New York.
The same could be said for Desir who was contacted by the Jets less than an hour after he was informed of his release by the Indianapolis Colts. In his case, it was a phone call with Gregg Williams that sold him on the Jets.
Defensive players are taking less money to join the Jets because of who their coach is. This is a scenario that Jets fans have yearned for ever since the days of Rex Ryan. Williams may not be the head coach in name, but he’s likely the team’s biggest selling point right now.
While offensive players are still needing more money to be convinced to play for Adam Gase and a lackluster Jets offense, players are signing worse deals just to play for Williams.
The Jets are taking full advantage of the Gregg Williams effect, and it will likely pay dividends once again.