Darious Williams is a Super Bowl champion –, and soon, he could be a free agency winner, too. The Los Angeles Rams’ steady cornerback is set to cash in when he hits the open market in March. What could Williams’ contract look like with his stats/metrics and career arc?
While Williams might not be a household name, he’s a major talent. He ranks 20th on Pro Football Network’s Top 50 Free Agents, behind only J.C. Jackson, Carlton Davis, and Stephon Gilmore among cornerbacks.
Darious Williams: Free Agency Overview
At 5-foot-9, 187 pounds, Williams will never be a dominant press-man cover corner. And that’s OK. Teams that play a lot of zone would get instantly better by adding him. Unrecruited by and then undrafted out of UAB — and later cut as a rookie by the Ravens — Williams has blossomed in Los Angeles. But can the Rams afford to keep him?
Recapping Williams’ 2021 season
Williams appeared in 14 games, starting 13 for the Rams in 2021. The only time he missed was due to a midseason ankle injury. Williams had 71 tackles (including 3 for loss) and was an every-down player for Los Angeles when healthy.
Joe Burrow barely looked Williams’ way in Super Bowl 56, targeting him just 4 times. Two of those passes were completed for just 24 yards. During the regular season, Williams surrendered completions on just 62% of his targets, allowing 6.6 yards per target and 10.7 yards per completion. His passer rating against (95.8) wasn’t super impressive, but that was a function of his 0 interceptions against 4 touchdowns allowed.
Williams’ contract estimate and salary cap implications
Williams was a restricted free agent in 2021, and the Rams tendered him at the first-round level. That ensured he earned $4.8 million guaranteed last season — after making just $2.2 million the previous two. The next contract he signs should dwarf anything that came before it.
Spotrac’s market value estimation for Williams’ next deal is four years, $58.4 million. That $14.6 million AAV would rank eighth among NFL corners — and might ultimately be outside of the Rams’ budget. As of late February, they were $13.2 million over the 2022 salary cap.
Possible landing spots for Williams
Every team needs quality cornerback depth. So every team would welcome a quality player like Williams on its roster. That should make for a seller’s market.
Clubs that make the most sense for Williams include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (if they lose Davis), Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots (if they lose Jackson), Pittsburgh Steelers, and Los Angeles Chargers. And don’t discount new Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero from trying to bring Williams with him to Denver.
What they’re saying about Williams
“Give him credit … for him to stick with that, then for him to take his journey as a college free agent and not get drafted, you have to have patience and perseverance.” — Rams general manager Les Snead, per WBRC
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