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Leonard Williams faces uncertain future as Jets mull defensive-line pick

The last time the Jets had a high-profile defensive lineman entering the final year of his contract (Sheldon Richardson, 2017), they traded him. The time before that (Muhammad Wilkerson, 2015), they drafted another defensive lineman in the first round (Leonard Williams), sending a message to Wilkerson.

Now, four years later, Williams finds himself in the Wilkerson position, preparing for the last year of his contract and wondering about his long-term future. The questions will intensify if the Jets select a defensive lineman with the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL draft, perhaps Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams or Ed Oliver.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Round and round, we go. The Jets have a way of repeating history.5

Unlike 2015, when Wilkerson, 24, was the subject of pre-draft trade speculation, it’s all eerily quiet on the Williams front. The Jets are intent to ride it out with him, waiting to see if he can deliver a blockbuster season that would warrant a massive, long-term extension (or, failing that, a franchise tag). It could backfire, of course, if he doesn’t rise to that level. In that case, they could lose him next year for nothing.

Unlike Wilkerson, who skipped voluntary workouts because he was unhappy with his contract, Williams is participating in the offseason program. What does that mean? Not a whole lot. In the end, it’s all about production. Wilkerson moped for months, but he enjoyed a career year and landed a five-year, $86 million deal (a bad investment, as it turned out). If Williams plays lights out, he’ll get paid, too.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Everything is aligned for Williams to have that kind of season. He’s all-in, which is what you’d expect from a player in a contract year. (By the way, he’s making a handsome wage in 2019 at $14.2 million.) Before team workouts in New Jersey, he trained at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. Instead of a normal routine, he changed up his workouts, sprinting up beach dunes and taking jujitsu classes to improve his body control and balance. He also believes he will thrive under fiery new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

“One of my favorite coaches of all-time was Coach [Ed] Orgeron, and he was an intense coach,” Williams said of the current LSU head coach, his position coach at Southern California. “I feel like that type of energy brings the best out of people.”

Still, Williams is only human. If the Jets invest a $30 million-plus guarantee in a hot-shot rookie, he’ll have to be thinking about what it means for his future.