FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Teams have been calling the Jets to see if defensive lineman Leonard Williams is available, and according to one league source, Jets GM Joe Douglas hasn't said "No."
Whether that means the Jets will trade the 24-year-old Williams remains to be seen, but for now the sense around the league is that Douglas is willing to listen to offers. So it's at least possible that before the trading deadline on Tuesday the Jets will finally deal the former sixth overall pick (2015).
"They seem a little more open to it than in the past," said one NFL source. "They always wanted to keep him before and give his talent a chance. But clearly they know time is running out."
In fact, time will almost certainly expire on Williams' Jets career in March since he is currently in the final year of his rookie contract. Despite his lack of sacks - he has zero this season and a total of two in the last calendar year - Williams could still seek a huge pay day as an unrestricted free agent in March. And it's highly doubtful the Jets will break the bank for him.
But he could be a very valuable rental for a contender that needs help up front - teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, perhaps. Any team that gets him would only owe the final $8.35 million remaining on his $14.2 million salary this year. But they'd get a versatile player who can line up at tackle or end and, in the right system, could thrive.
"The Jets aren't kidding when the talk about all the 'dirty work' he does and how he draws double teams," said one AFC scout. "Is that enough for a huge contract? I don't know. But that could help a lot of teams down the stretch. And some coordinator is going to feel he can turn him into a pass-rusher, too."
So what would Williams cost? Multiple NFL sources have said the Jets can expect to get a third-round pick in return for Williams, but the feeling is that Douglas might hold out for more. The Rams sent a third and a fifth to the Jacksonville Jaguars for linebacker Dante Fowler at the deadline last year, and that could be a good guide to the asking price.
At this point, even if they didn't get that price, it would make a lot of sense for the Jets to take whatever they could get for Williams, rather than let him walk away in March and just hope for a 2021 compensation pick depending on how he plays next season. They drafted defensive tackle Quinnen Williams third overall in April, so they have a ready-made replacement in the lineup. And with only seven sacks in the last 2.5 seasons, the Jets simply can't afford to pay Leonard Williams what he's going to want in his next deal.