Darious Williams Landing Spots: Bengals, Patriots, Chargers, and Steelers all provide options

    After the Super Bowl, the future of Darious Williams comes into sharp focus, but where are his potential landing spots this offseason?

    When it comes to landing spots in free agency this offseason, Darious Williams’ situation is fascinating. The Los Angeles Rams CB came into the year with the opportunity to earn himself a significant contract as a free agent in 2022. However, his value has somewhat stagnated in the past year — it is intriguing to see what market develops.

    Darious Williams’ Landing Spots

    Having arrived in Los Angeles as a rookie in 2018, Williams put together a strong pair of seasons in 2019 and 2020. As a restricted free agent last offseason, he was the only player to receive a first-round tender. That demonstrated how the Rams valued him at the very least. At that point, he was coming off a year where he allowed just a 54.2% completion rate, 2 touchdowns, and 7.3 yards per target. Williams also intercepted 4 passes, leaving him with a passer rating against of 63.9.

    Unfortunately, the 2021 season has been the worst of Williams’ short career overall. In terms of the positive, he restricted opponents to a 62% pass completion rate and 6.6 yards per target. However, the negative aspects are that Williams allowed 4 touchdowns and a passer rating of 95.8 when targeted, and he did not have a single interception.

    All of that has meant that Williams is not projected to earn similar numbers to the top players at the position. Spotrac currently has Williams projected for a four-year deal worth $14.6 million a year. That is short of the highest-paid CBs in the league and what fellow free-agent CB J.C. Jackson is expected to earn.

    With that in mind, let’s examine where there might be potential landing spots for Williams this offseason.

    The New York Jets could be a landing spot for Williams

    There appears to be a lot of discussion around what the Jets might do this offseason for the CB position. Their current group is young, and they may look for a veteran to lead that group. However, there have also been reports that the Jets are comfortable with the core they have — any additions would come in the draft.

    If they did decide to add a veteran this offseason, Williams could be intriguing. He is not a premier free agent along the lines of Jackson, but he is undeniably talented. The query is whether Williams is experienced enough to be that “veteran.” While he has played in 46 games, Williams has just 26 starts at the position. The Jets may be looking for someone with more starts and years under their belt if they go down this route.

    Could the New England Patriots make the move for a free-agent CB?

    At the start of the last league year, the Patriots had Stephon Gilmore and Jackson on their roster. After trading Gilmore during the season and Jackson a pending free agent this offseason, the Pats’ CB depth looks somewhat weak. Recent history has demonstrated that New England is willing to pay up for a CB in free agency if they feel he is worth it.

    The problem they have is that Jackson is likely to want around $20 million a year. The Patriots have other needs to address this offseason, so they might decide that is too rich. They could franchise Jackson, but signing Williams at around $14-15 million a year for three or four years could be a better long-term option for the team. Williams does not possess the playmaking upside of Jackson, but he could be a useful CB1 to build the secondary around.

    The Pittsburgh Steelers are an intriguing potential destination for Williams

    The Steelers will likely have to address their CB reserves this offseason. They may feel that Cameron Sutton can fill that CB1 role, but the departure of Joe Haden leaves them likely needing to do something. They have questions to answer at QB, which could limit their cap space. But with more than $30 million projected as it stands, that should not be a major issue.

    There are pros and cons of potentially heading to Pittsburgh for Williams. On the positive side, he would play in a well-respected defense regularly among the best in the league. Additionally, his life would be made somewhat easier by the presence of a good pass rush, led by T.J. Watt. The potential negative is that with no certainty at the QB position, Williams might prefer to head to a team that appears closer to challenging in 2022 and 2023.

    Could the Los Angeles Chargers keep Williams local?

    If Williams likes Los Angeles and the Rams are not an option, could he switch to the Chargers’ powder blue? The Chargers have talented options on the outside, but Chris Harris Jr. is set to be a free agent. They also have enough cap space to address multiple needs this offseason.

    The Chargers could be a better option for Williams if he wants to stay with a team almost assured of being in the playoff picture this year. Justin Herbert is developing nicely, and he would join a talented defense with Joey Bosa and Derwin James. There is certainly a lot to like about this as a potential destination, especially if he likes the warm climate and bright lights of LA.

    Could a switch to the Cincinnati Bengals be an option?

    Imagine the somewhat slight awkwardness for Williams if he makes a defining play to help the Rams defeat the Bengals in Super Bowl 56, only to sign in Cincinnati a month later. Away from that potentially awkward situation, the Bengals would make sense as a landing spot for Williams. They have the cap space with $55 million projected to be available, and they certainly need to make decisions about their secondary.

    The key will be how the Bengals feel they need to look at that secondary. Do they pay big money to keep Jessie Bates in the center of the secondary, or do they potentially let Bates walk and go for a high-profile corner? Of course, they could even do both, but it’s prudent to look at a replacement for Eli Apple this offseason. They may decide to roll with Trae Waynes and Chidobe Awuzie. Still, the Bengals have the chance to be aggressive this offseason, and Williams would certainly be the aggressive option.

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