The real Cary Williams showed up at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field Sunday afternoon, not the imposter who actually played to the lofty expectations that his free agent contract would imply in Week 1 of the NFL schedule.
In what may go down as one of the biggest mistakes in the new Howie Roseman Philadelphia Eagles’ regime, the former Baltimore Raven was signed in the offseason to an absurd three-year, $17 million deal, including $5.75 million guaranteed.
Williams jumped at the chance to grab the cash, after coming from humble football beginnings. Originally attending Fordham University, the cornerback transferred after his freshman year because of lack of playing time. Lack of playing time at football powerhouse Fordham?
From there, Williams transferred to Division II School Washburn and was a seventh round pick of the Tennessee Titans in 2008. Waived three times by the Titans, he was grabbed off the scrap heap by the Ravens in November of 2009.
His lackluster NFL career continued, being suspended two games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. In two years as a starter for the Ravens, Williams’ play was consistently inconsistent. Having a reputation for being torched on the long ball, he has now tallied a total of five interceptions, two sacks, 155 tackles and three fumble recoveries since 2008.
Desperate to replace the disappointing Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie after the 2012 season, Roseman reached for any available cornerbacks he could grab. With no depth in the secondary and weak safety play already in place, the addition of Williams was questionable enough from a sheer talent standpoint. However, Williams’ personality and attitude have proved to be the biggest detriment to the Eagles’ defensive unit.
Although the team’s offseason Organized Team Activities (OTAs) are technically optional, it’s understood in NFL ranks that signed players are expected to attend. Williams chose not to show up in Philly and was quite vocal about honestly explaining his reasons for being absent.
The hot-headed cornerback stated that he had a dentist’s appointment and needed to be at his young daughter’s dance recital. In addition, he insisted on overseeing the selection of sconces for the new home he and his family were building with the large signing bonus Roseman gave him.
Acting about as defensive as Eagles fans have seen from the overrated cornerback, he continued to argue that there is more to life than football, that his family came first, and that he could care less what people thought. Obviously not the type of thing that sits well in football-crazed Philadelphia with many hard-working blue-collar folks squeezing every penny they have together to pay to watch Williams play.
The Williams negative public relations campaign continued as he was quite outspoken about teammate Riley Cooper’s apology for the racial slur Cooper made on videotape at a Kenny Chesney concert. While several team leaders were outspoken in their support for the wide receiver, Williams raised questions about how Cooper would be received in the Eagles locker room.
Follow that controversy up with an injury-riddled training camp and a heated altercation with Cooper during a practice leading up to the season opener, and Williams appeared to be much more of a headache than he was worth. However, a standout performance in the Monday Night Football opener against the Washington Redskins silenced the critics and Eagles fans for a week.
In Sunday’s home opener against the San Diego Chargers, however, the real Williams emerged. Whistled for three pass interference calls and lit up like a Christmas tree all day by various Charger receivers, Williams played more like the guy who has been cut three times and made a living on NFL practice squads.
Instead of Philip Rivers’ passes, the cornerback could only get his hands on Charger receivers’ jerseys, as television replays backed up the referees’ calls. Other than much maligned safety Nate Allen, nobody had a worse day on the Eagles’ defense than Williams in Week 2.
Unfortunately for Chip Kelly, there isn’t anyone talented enough waiting in the wings to replace Williams, so Eagle fans will suffer with not only Williams’ entitled attitude, but also his awful play. Look for Roseman to replace him and his inflated contract after the season.