Williams started the season as the number two cornerback opposite Pro Bowler Lardarius Webb. Williams’ job security wasn’t the safest, as Jimmy Smith and Corey Graham looked to cut into Williams’ role. In a secondary with Webb, Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard, Williams was viewed as the weak link in an otherwise strong secondary.
It appeared that disaster struck the Ravens in Week 6 when Webb tore his ACL and was lost for the season. Now all of a sudden, the “weak link” of the secondary became the top cornerback and would be in charge of covering the opposition’s top wideout.
To Williams’ credit, he didn’t listen to the critics and took the opportunity to be a top cornerback and ran with it. Williams co-led the Ravens with four interceptions and led the team with 17 passes defended. There were a couple of rough moments, as every cornerback is susceptible to, but Williams brought a steadying influence to a unit that needed it desperately.
Williams continued his stellar play in the postseason, as he had two game-clinching interceptions against Andrew Luck and Tom Brady respectively. Williams’ strong postseason and breakout regular season came at a perfect time, as he is now an unrestricted free agent.
Williams made just over $1.9 million last season, but his pricetag will be much more expensive as he shown the league he could handle the duties of a top cornerback. The Ravens would love to keep Williams, entering his sixth season, but they do have other options.
First and foremost, Webb is expected to be ready for next season. Smith has two years remaining on his current contract, while Graham has one season left on his. The Ravens could choose to re-slot Webb into the top corner spot and let the likes of Smith and/or Graham handle the second and third cornerback duties.
The Ravens chose not to use the franchise tag this year, as it would only add to their salary cap issues, so that is not an option for Williams. Thus, the Ravens would love to keep Williams, but if another team swoops in with a juicy deal, the Ravens may have to walk away from Williams with other key free agents to lock up. If it comes down to Williams, or say Paul Kruger or Dannell Ellerbe, look for Williams to be playing elsewhere next season.
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