Williams was considered one of the best right tackles available on the open market, but it appears other clubs have at least some level of concern about the status of his right knee. The 26-year-old Williams dislocated his kneecap and tore his MCL last summer, but was still able to suit up for Carolina’s season opener. However, Williams wasn’t able to complete the game and went on injured reserve not long after going down.
As such, Williams was hitting the free agent period coming off a lackluster platform season, but he was still expected to cash in. Fellow right tackle Ja’Wuan James received $13MM annually from the Broncos, and it wouldn’t have been out of the question for Williams to target a similar contract. Instead, he’ll take a prove-it deal with the Panthers with the hope he can rebound and before hitting free agency again in 2019.
A fourth-round pick in 2015, Williams was a full-time starter in both 2016 and 2017, appearing in 29 games and making 26 starts during that time. Even without Williams available, the Panthers’ line was respectable in 2018, ranking among the top-ten front fives in Football Outsiders‘ pass- and run-blocking metrics. Williams will return to a line that now includes new center Matt Paradis in addition to Matt Kalil, Trai Turner, and whomever Carolina finds to play left guard.
The Giants and Bills — both of whom employ former Carolina staffers as general manager — each reportedly had their eyes on Williams. Buffalo signed Ty Nsekhe to handle right tackle, while New York could turn to a free agent group that includes Jared Veldheer, Jermey Parnell, and Ryan Schraeder.
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