Brandon Williams (DT)

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/22/20

Here are Thursday’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Dallas Cowboys

Washington Football Team

Ravens Place DT Brandon Williams On Reserve/COVID-19 List

The NFL again changed its policy regarding the reserve/COVID-19 list this week, resulting in more players being eligible to land on it. The Ravens placed their first player on the list since training camp.

Baltimore placed veteran defensive tackle Brandon Williams on the COVID list Saturday, putting him in line to miss Sunday’s game against Philadelphia. The Ravens are now on track to be without Williams and Derek Wolfe against the Eagles. The latter drew a doubtful designation because of a neck injury and a concussion.

Williams was not at Ravens practice Friday, with John Harbaugh indicating he was an excused absence. The 31-year-old defender did not test positive, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, but did have close contact with an infected person (Twitter link). The Ravens’ Week 6 game against the Eagles remains a go, per The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec (on Twitter). They are traveling to Philadelphia this afternoon.

A former Division II standout, Williams has been a Ravens starter since the 2014 season. The Ravens opted not to let the former third-round pick walk in 2017, re-signing him to a lucrative extension. Williams made the 2018 Pro Bowl and is a key player for a Raven defense that ranks third in DVOA.

It is unclear if Williams has tested positive for the coronavirus, but new protocols implemented this week call for all players who qualify as close contacts of someone who tested positive for COVID-19 to be isolated for at least five days — even if they are asymptomatic.

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Ravens Rework Brandon Williams’ Deal

The Ravens and defensive tackle Brandon Williams have agreed to a reworked deal that will give the team an additional $3MM in cap space (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Field Yates). Previously, Williams was set to earn $19MM over the next two years with no guaranteed cash. Now, he’ll have $8.25MM locked in with a base value of $15.75MM. 

[RELATED: Titans Beat Out Ravens, Saints For Clowney]

Williams was once among the best defensive tackles in football, but his production has slipped in recent years. He’s also been asked to move around the line, but he’s expected to play more in the middle this year. That should help the veteran get back to his old form – Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the league’s No. 91 defensive lineman from 2017-2019 on snaps played elsewhere. But, at nose tackle, he rated No. 4. He’ll go head-to-head with centers, forging a path for new teammates like Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe.

That revamped D-Line could have featured Jadeveon Clowney, but the Ravens lost out to the Titans earlier this month. According to some reports, the Ravens weren’t quite as bullish on the former No. 1 overall pick.

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Release Candidate: Ravens’ Brandon Williams

At 337 pounds, Brandon Williams has been a force on the interior for the Ravens. However, with a $14.1MM scheduled cap hit in 2019 and other options, the Ravens could consider releasing the veteran before the start of the season.

[POLL: Which 2018 Playoff Team Will Miss The Postseason?]

Williams was once among the best defensive tackles in football, but his production has slipped in recent years. Last season, Williams graded out as just the No. 33 ranked interior defender in the league, according to Pro Football Focus, a major drop off from his 2014 and 2015 form.

Moving on from Williams could open up more opportunities for Michael Pierce, who is four years younger at the age of 26. Pierce is a quality pass rusher, a stronger defender against the run, and finished out as PFF’s No. 5 ranked DT in 2018. There’s also fifth-round rookie Daylon Mack to consider. The Texas A&M product is undeniably green, but he has a lot of potential as a run stuffing nose tackle.

Historically, the Ravens haven’t been big on using the post June 1 designation for release, but employing that with Williams would save them $6.25MM for the coming season.

 

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No Timeline For Ravens DT Brandon Williams

Defensive tackle Brandon Williams does not have a timeline for return as he works his way back from a foot injury, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told reporters, including Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link).Brandon Williams (Vertical)

Williams, who re-signed with the Ravens in March on a five-year, $52.5MM deal, has missed each of Baltimore’s last two games (which, coincidentally or not, have both been losses). The Ravens have allowed more than 160 yards rushing to both the Jaguars and the Steelers over the past two weeks without Williams, who appeared in all 16 games from 2014-16. Williams, 28, graded as the NFL’s No. 39 interior defender among 127 qualifiers in last season, per Pro Football Focus, which assigned Williams stout marks against the run.

With Williams sidelined, Baltimore has asked fellow defensive tackle Michael Pierce to play increased snaps — he’s seeing action on nearly 80% of the Ravens’ defensive plays after lining up on just a third of the club’s snaps a season ago. With fellow starter Brent Urban done for the season, Carl Davis, Bronson Kaufusi, and Willie Henry are also seeing time. Third-round rookie Chris Wormley has yet to be active on gameday in 2017, but that could hypothetically change later in the year.

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North Notes: Packers, Williams, Bengals

The Packers made a rare foray into the non-street free agent portion of the offseason waters by signing Martellus Bennett. That move figures to pay off, in the eyes of some anonymous NFL personnel men.

Bennett is way better than Jared Cook,” one personnel director said, via Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an expansive piece. “And he’s smarter. And he’s not as selfish. He’s going to be loud, but you’ve got to live with that.”

Chiming in on this debate, a scout told McGinn: “Cook is faster straight-line, yes, but their body type is totally different. When you walk up on Bennett, that is a man. Cook can’t block you or me. Bennett can. He can seal an edge.”

While these evaluators said the deal for Bennett comes with risk because of the pass-catcher’s age (30) and recent injury struggles. Bennett injured an ankle last season and reinjured it to the point he might require offseason surgery. One GM also mentioned 12 tight ends he would rather have than Bennett next season — a list that included Jack Doyle, Jermaine Gresham and Kyle Rudolph — but the same GM told McGinn he would only take two of those tight ends (Rob Gronkowski and Rudolph) over Bennett as a blocker.

Here’s more from the Norths as free agency nears its third week.

  • Lance Kendricks‘ two-year Packers accord will be worth $4MM, with $1.2MM guaranteed, per McGinn. This could prove to be a value-re-establishing pact for Kendricks, who saw the Rams get out of a four-year, $18.5MM deal by cutting him.
  • Brandon Williams received interest from beyond Baltimore, but the Ravens succeeded on a persistent push to retain him. The fifth-year nose tackle wasn’t keen on being the latest impact Ravens UFA defection. “I wanted to come back. I tried to kind of leave hints,” Williams said, via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Ravens signed their former Division II find to a five-year, $52.5MM deal. That pact includes a $12.5MM signing bonus. The Bills’ decision to revert back to a 4-3 look will make Williams the league’s highest-paid nose tackle by a wide margin.
  • Despite Kevin Minter pledging to come to Cincinnati for the 2017 season, Reuben Foster remains an option for the Bengals with their No. 9 overall pick, Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. Minter signed a one-year deal, and Foster — if taken at No. 9 overall — would be under team control for five. Plus, Minter has positional versatility that would allow him to play alongside the Alabama middle linebacker.
  • Ricky Jean-Francois left his Bears visit without a contract, and the UFA defensive lineman will make his way to Seattle for a scheduled Seahawks summit, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets. Anderson added

Ravens Re-Sign DT Brandon Williams

The Ravens are keeping one of their top free agents in Baltimore. Defensive tackle Brandon Williams is re-signing with the team, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. It’s a five-year deal, Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun tweets. The pact is worth $54MM, including $27MM in guarantees, which makes Williams the highest-paid nose tackle in the NFL, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

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Earlier Thursday, it was said that Williams’ agent was only working on a contract with the Ravens, though the Titans later found a way to get involved. The overtures from Tennessee didn’t work – Williams, 26, is sticking with the only team he’s ever known in the NFL and is in line to remain in Baltimore through his prime seasons.

Williams entered the league as a third-round pick in 2013 and has since totaled 55 appearances and 46 starts in Baltimore. Last year was the third straight 16-game campaign for Williams, who also started all of the Ravens’ contests for the second season in a row and ranked 39th in performance among Pro Football Focus‘ 127 qualified D-linemen.

Williams joins safety Tony Jefferson as the second major signing on the defensive side of the ball during this free agency period for the Ravens. After finishing an excellent sixth in defensive DVOA last season, the club also has free agent cornerback Morris Claiborne on its radar.

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Titans Interested In Brandon Williams

The Titans are among the teams with interest in free agent defensive tackle Brandon Williams, according to Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com (Twitter link). However, the two might not be able to find common ground on a price, McCormick adds.

Brandon Williams (Vertical)

As of earlier Thursday, Williams’ agent was working on a contract with the Ravens, the 28-year-old’s only NFL employer to date. Williams entered the league as a third-round pick in 2013 and has since piled up 55 appearances and 46 starts in Baltimore. Last year was the third straight 16-game campaign for Williams, who also started all of the Ravens’ games for the second season in a row and ranked 39th in performance among Pro Football Focus‘ 127 qualified D-linemen.

Given his track record, the 335-pound Williams – who ranks as one of the top free agents left on the board – figures to come at a high cost. An adept run defender, Williams would further beef up a Tennessee ‘D’ that already fared well against opposing rushers last season, when it ranked second in ground yards allowed and 10th in DVOA versus the run.

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Latest On Brandon Williams

Although several clubs want to take a meeting free agent defensive tackle Brandon Williams, his agents are working on a contract with the Ravens, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.Brandon Williams (Vertical)

The 28-year-old Williams has so far spent his entire career with the Ravens, who selected him in the third round of the 2013 draft. Williams has been durable, having appeared in 16 games in each of the past three seasons, and productive. In addition to piling up 16 starts for the second straight year, he ranked as Pro Football Focus‘ 39th-best D-tackle among 127 qualifiers last season.

Williams, who rates as PFR’s No. 4 free agent interior defender, is expected to command a Damon Harrison-esque contract: five years, $46.25MM.

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Ravens Trying To Re-Sign Williams, Mallett

As of earlier Wednesday, it appeared impending free agent defensive tackle Brandon Williams was definitely on his way out of Baltimore, but that’s not the case, tweets Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. The Ravens are still working to re-sign Williams before the market opens Thursday.

Brandon Williams (Vertical)[RELATED: Ravens To Sign Tony Jefferson]

The 28-year-old Williams has so far spent his entire career with the Ravens, who selected him in the third round of the 2013 draft. Williams has been durable, having appeared in 16 games in each of the past three seasons, and productive. In addition to piling up 16 starts for the second straight year, he ranked as Pro Football Focus‘ 39th-best D-tackle among 127 qualifiers last season.

Along with Williams, the Ravens are attempting to re-up a lower priority free agent-to-be in quarterback Ryan Mallett, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). After stints with New England and Houston, Mallett joined the Ravens late in the 2015 season and served as Joe Flacco‘s primary backup last year. In six appearances (two starts) with Baltimore, the 28-year-old has posted a 59.2 percent completion rate, two touchdowns against three interceptions, and 5.7 yards per attempt.

 

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