The Jets began selling off their players on Monday. Leonard Williams is the first to go, but he’s not moving too far.
The defensive lineman is being traded to the Giants for a third-round pick this year and a fifth-round pick in 2021, league sources confirmed. It is the first completed trade between the Jets and Giants, who will play each other at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 10.
Jets coach Adam Gase said during a conference call Monday that he couldn’t comment on the trade until it becomes official. But Gase said he and general manager Joe Douglas spoke to Williams on Monday to give him “a heads up.”
Giants coach Pat Shurmur also declined to confirm the trade when he spoke with reporters earlier on Monday.
“I wouldn’t comment on anything about that until anything was public,” he said.
The trade partners were surprising, but that the 1-6 Jets made a deal or that Williams was dealt was not. They were expected to be sellers before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline.
“It sucks, but at the same time, it’s part of the business,” Sam Darnold said of losing Williams.
Rumors had been swirling about Williams being on the move. Wide receiver Robby Anderson is another player who could be shipped out if the Jets find a deal they like.
Douglas wants to acquire draft capital so he can rebuild the Jets into a team that he believes can contend. The Jets are on their way to missing the playoffs for the ninth straight season.
Williams, 25, underachieved after being taken with the sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft. His contract is up after this season, and it’s obvious the Jets were not going to sign him to an extension. So Douglas tried to get the most he could.
If Williams signs a contract extension with the Giants before free agency, the fifth-round pick the Jets acquired will become a fourth-rounder, a source confirmed.
“I really can’t go into anything until this thing’s official,” Gase said. “I just know Leonard’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s worked hard. He’s done a great job in practice. He’s fought as hard as anybody every game. Really, that’s all I can say about that whole situation.”
Giants linebacker Alec Ogletree, whose name has come up in trade rumors, said Williams would be a welcome addition.
“If we do add him, he can definitely come in and help us out and help us win games,” Ogletree said.
Williams was the last Jet left from former general manager Mike Maccagnan’s first draft class. He made the Pro Bowl in his second season but never put up the big sack numbers or statistics the Jets expected.
He finishes his Jets career with 17 sacks in 71 games, none this season. He almost recorded one in Sunday’s 29-15 loss in Jacksonville, but it was wiped out by a defensive holding penalty.
Anderson also is in the last year of his contract. For a variety of reasons, he hasn’t become the No. 1 receiver he believes he should be. The Jets could decide it’s best to move on from Anderson, too, and get something for him now.
Gase continues to say he’s leaving all those decisions to Douglas. “For me, that’s something that I can’t worry about right now,” he said. “My conversations with Robby are stay focused on what you’re doing. He’s done a good job with that.
“We’re here to coach the players that we have,” Gase added. “I look at it as our job is to go out there and try to win games. The front office is doing everything they can to put us in good position, not only now but in the future.”
In the days leading up to his final game with the team, Williams expressed his desire to remain with the Jets but said he was ready for anything.
“I have to be prepared for whatever happens,” he said. “I know I’ll be playing somewhere.”
Somewhere very close, it turns out.
With the exception of their No. 1 picks from the last three drafts, the Jets have discarded all their top selections from the last decade:
2019 — Quinnen Williams
2018 — Sam Darnold
2017 — Jamal Adams
2016 — Darron Lee (Traded)
2015 — Leonard Williams (Traded)
2014 — Calvin Pryor (Traded)
2013 — Dee Milliner (Released)
Sheldon Richardson (Traded)
2012 — Quinton Coples (Released)
2011 — Muhammad Wilkerson (Released)
2010 — Kyle Wilson (Released)