With the Kansas City Chiefs in the hunt for a third straight Super Bowl appearance, the future of Darrel Williams remains uncertain. A soon-to-be free agent, Williams will begin the process of finding a new landing spot. Where could Williams sign in free agency in the 2022 offseason to help fill a void in an NFL team’s backfield?
Darrel Williams’ landing spots
The Chiefs backfield has been a hot-button topic in recent seasons. While they spent a first-round pick on Clyde Edwards-Helaire following their Super Bowl victory, it has remained a committee.
When given the opportunity, Williams has been a solid contributor, with many saying he looked better than Edwards-Helaire at times. A fourth-year back out of LSU, Williams had a career year in 2021. Playing in all 17 regular-season games, Williams rushed 144 times for 558 yards with 6 touchdowns, accounting for 43.1% of Kansas City’s rushing share. He was also involved in the passing game, recording 57 targets (9.1%) with 47 receptions for 452 yards and 2 additional scores. Williams ended the season as the No. 5 RB in passing yardage, tied with D’Andre Swift and ahead of Alvin Kamara.
While Williams is not a lead back, he could be serviceable as a fill-in for a team needing either a reliable No. 2 or someone to work in the receiving game. And for an estimated market value of three years and $6.6 million (per Spotrac), I doubt it will take Williams long to find a new landing spot. He’s a proven asset in the passing game and as a runner between the tackles.
Williams showed this season he can handle a heavier load. Pairing him with, say, a rookie RB could be a phenomenal way to bolster a running game while spending a minimal amount against the salary cap.
Could the Chicago Bears be a potential landing spot?
The Bears are undergoing the process of re-tooling their team from top to bottom. That includes the offense. David Montgomery is a player you can build around, but he only has one year left on his contract. Aside from Darnell Mooney on the perimeter and Cole Kmet at TE, there are few, if any, remaining noteworthy skill players who Justin Fields can use.
Williams could be a great option at RB and can play on all three downs. The Bears lost an entire year of Tarik Cohen as a receiving back, and Williams would be able to fill the void. A player like Williams could be a solid addition as a rotational piece with Montgomery and Khalil Herbert.
The Arizona Cardinals will be a popular landing spot for many RBs
Despite their unceremonious exit from the playoffs, the Arizona Cardinals are still in a good place as a team. With that said, the RB position will be a massive issue they need to address in the offseason with both James Conner and Chase Edmonds set to become free agents. I would expect at least one of them to come back, but I am unsure if they want to spend the estimated $26 million over the next three years on the RB position.
Williams could work well in Arizona’s offense, and he could potentially serve as the No. 2 to Conner, who just ended the season with 18 touchdowns and 1,127 scrimmage yards. If this were to come to fruition, it could be one of the more under-the-radar solid signings of free agency.
The Chiefs will likely try to keep Darrel Williams on the roster
I am not saying he should take the hometown discount, but Williams might be keen to stay in Kansas City after a career year. Likewise, I am sure they would be more than happy to keep him on the roster. Edwards-Helaire continuously seemed banged up, and the Chiefs know what Williams can do as the lead back.
In games where Williams saw 10 or more carries (seven games), he averaged 14.1 attempts, 4.4 targets, 95.7 total yards, and scored 6 touchdowns. Those are by no means numbers to scoff at, and why I believe the Chiefs would be wise to keep him around. Sometimes the best landing spot is the one you already have.
Williams could help the Texans solidify their running game
The Texans need help basically everywhere. Running back is no exception.
David Johnson — whom Houston traded DeAndre Hopkins for just two years ago — is a free agent, as is Royce Freeman. The Texans even brought in Phillip Lindsay for a bit before cutting him mid-season. Rex Burkhead did have a decent year as a do-it-all RB and was rewarded with a one-year, $2.35 million extension for the 2022 season.
Is Houston an attractive landing spot for Williams? Of course not.
However, if he wants volume, going to a team like the Texans with an unsettled backfield could be the way to go. Perhaps he could bet on himself with a one-year deal. If Williams plays well, he could set himself up nicely to cash in during the 2023 free agency cycle when he would still be 27 years old.