The Jets weren’t expecting defensive lineman Leonard Williams to be available when they were on the board in the first round and they were more than happy to take the USC prospect with the sixth pick.
On Wednesday, General Manager Mike Maccagnan said that Williams was the pick was because he was too good to pass up and that “big picture” implications of the move weren’t on his mind. Those implications are mostly tied to defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, who is in the final year of his contract, but Maccagnan said that there’s no direct correlation between Wilkerson’s future and Williams’s arrival.
“It’s a good situation,” Maccagnan said on ESPN Radio in New York. “My thing is this: It’s kind of up to Todd [Bowles] to best utilize his resources at that position. Going forward, it doesn’t really impact Mo directly in that sense.”
Maccagnan also reiterated that the team isn’t “actively shopping” Wilkerson in a trade, which works against the notion that Williams’s arrival is exclusive to Wilkerson’s future with the team. The Jets would be a lot less likely to shop Wilkerson actively, passively or anywhere in the middle without Williams on hand and the rookie’s arrival allows them to approach extension talks differently than they would have with a new wide receiver on the roster.
None of which means that Wilkerson’s heading off the team, of course. Without a big money quarterback on the roster, the Jets have cap room to spend across the board and they can use the franchise tag to keep Wilkerson around in the absence of a longer extension.