One of the league’s most injury-prone teams in recent years, the Broncos have not seen as much trouble on that front to start this slate. But they have been without their slot cornerback throughout the year. That is expected to continue the rest of the way.
K’Waun Williams underwent foot surgery just before the regular season, and the Broncos expressed hope the veteran corner could return during the campaign’s second half. That is no longer on track, with 9News’ Mike Klis reporting Williams needed another surgery, one that is expected to prevent him from playing this season.
The surgery Williams underwent Aug .28 did not work, per Klis, leading to the need for a more extensive second operation, which took place Monday. This second procedure is set to sideline the 10th-year veteran for around three months. Barring an unlikely Broncos surge from 2-5 to the divisional round, Williams will not see the field during what would have been his age-32 season.
This is familiar territory for the Broncos, who have seen unavailability largely define their slot position post-Chris Harris. Denver slid the All-Decade corner to more of an outside role in 2019, upon signing ex-Vic Fangio Bears pupil Bryce Callahan. But Callahan missed all of that 2019 season and battled injuries in 2020 and ’21, missing 12 more games between his final two Denver slates. Letting Callahan walk in free agency after firing Fangio, the Broncos signed Williams — to a two-year, $5.2MM deal — to replace him. Williams played in 14 games last season but underwent knee surgery. Despite changing defensive staffs once again, the Broncos retained Williams this offseason.
Williams spent five seasons as the 49ers’ primary slot corner, coming over after a stint with the Browns. This will likely end up being the otherwise-reliable vet’s second full-season absence; he missed all of 2016 with bone spurs in his ankle, leading to a grievance. Williams re-established himself in San Francisco and joined Patrick Surtain in Denver’s secondary last season. But this contract-year injury will obviously hinder his 2024 market and, given his age, potentially threaten to wrap his career.