The Jets newest LB Avery Williamson didn't really know what he was walking into in New York. But, after taking a step back and officially inking his new deal, his excitement for next season is through the roof.
"It's a lot of excitement. New team, new city, new fans. A whole lot of excitement," Williamson said in a conference call with the media on Tuesday.
Williamson, a 26-year-old middle linebacker, had several suitors this offseason. However, the Jets simply presented the best deal in his eyes.
"I had like a solid four teams that were pursuing me," he said. "They had the better deal at the end of the day."
The deal came out to $22.5 million over three years with $16 million guaranteed at signing. Williamson will be a $6 million cap hit in 2018, followed by $8 million in 2019 and $8.5 million in 2020. There is also a $500K incentive if he makes a Pro Bowl.
But Pro Bowl aspirations aren't on his mind just yet as he switches to a new defense for the first time in his career. Williamson will have some early pressure on him as he takes over for LB Demario Davis, who the Jets decided not to pursue this offseason. He eventually signed a deal with the Saints.
Davis was a big producer for the Jets' second tier, and Williamson will be looked at to fill that role the same way this coming season. But Williamson has experience replacing a formidable linebacker in the past, as he took over the middle linebacker role at Kentucky his junior year after Danny Trevathan was drafted by the Broncos.
So, he isn't going to try and play like Davis. Instead, he'll do his own thing.
"You can't really compare yourself to another guy, I feel like, in the sense of trying to fill somebody's shoes," he said. "He has his style of play, and I have my style of play. We're both solid players, but we have our own traits and our own things that we like to do on the field. Really I just don't want to pressure myself to try to be like him."
Though he needs to do more research, Williamson believes he can "play free" in the Jets' one-gap scheme. It would allow him to charge the line, and get into the backfield whether to get to the quarterback or running back.
But Williamson may be tasked with dropping back into coverage, and though there has been concern from him in that area, he feels he made improved that area significantly last season.
"I definitely feel like I've gotten better in my coverage skills," Williamson said. "It showed on the film from last year. I feel like I did a lot better job. That's something that I really wanted to emphasize in my fourth year."
Williamson is another young asset head coach Todd Bowles can deploy on his defense, and the linebacker believes the defense is has loads of potential just waiting to be unleashed.
"The sky is the limit for the defense," he said.
In 16 games last season, Williams totaled 92 tackles, three sacks, four run stuffs, and two passes defended. He amassed 100 tackles in 2015 and 2016 as well.