Longtime standout defensive tackle Kevin Williams has signed a one-day contract with the Vikings and will officially retire as a member of the organization Thursday, Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune was among those to report.
Williams, 35, spent the vast majority of his career in Minnesota, which selected him ninth overall in the 2003 draft. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy stayed with the Vikings through the 2013 season and racked up six Pro Bowl bids, five first-team All-Pro selections and 60 sacks with the club.
“I had a great time with the Vikings and appreciate them giving me a chance,” Williams said in a statement. “They drafted a small town kid from Arkansas and the organization, the city, the whole state really, helped raise me into a man. I appreciate them for that and look forward to coming back and doing some things with the team.”
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After departing Minnesota, Williams played two more seasons – one in Seattle and another in New Orleans. Williams was solid depth for the 2014-15 NFC champion Seahawks, totaling 30 tackles and three sacks in 16 regular-season games (eight starts). He once again played every game last year, this time starting 14 and amassing 32 tackles and a pair of forced fumbles for the Saints, though he failed to record a sack for the only time in his career. Still, Williams’ work in his final campaign earned him a quality ranking at Pro Football Focus (subscription required), which placed him 33rd among 123 qualifying interior defenders.
As a free agent, Williams perhaps could’ve caught on with another club looking for D-line depth, but he’ll instead walk away after 13 NFL seasons. In regards to Williams’ exit, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said, “Kevin Williams was an established team leader when we bought the Vikings and his presence was crucial to our success. His consistency and durability makes him a Viking for the ages. We wish Kevin and his family all the best as they enjoy retirement.”
Williams appeared in 203 of a possible 208 regular-season games and logged 193 starts with 525 tackles, 63 sacks and nine forced fumbles. PFR wishes him the best in his retirement.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.