Marcus Williams (CB)

Cardinals Release CB Marcus Williams

The Cardinals released cornerback Marcus Williams, according to a team announcement. Williams was signed as a free agent in April, but his time in Arizona has come to an end after just one month. 

The release of Williams comes just after the acquisition of former Browns cornerback Jamar Taylor. Taylor projects as the team’s new starter opposite of Patrick Peterson, which pushed every other cornerback on the depth chart down a peg. That shift wound up pushing Williams off of the roster.

Williams started 15 games in three seasons with the Jets, but did not start a game in 2017. The Jets shopped him in the summer of 2017 and waived him in October, leading him to Houston. With the Texans, he appeared in ten games as a reserve and totaled 12 tackles, four pass deflections, and came up with an interception against the Seahawks in a late October game. His most notable season came in 2015 when he tallied six interceptions in 13 games with Gang Green.

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NFC West Notes: ‘Hawks, Thomas, Kaep

Seahawks GM John Schneider says he has not talked to Earl Thomas‘ representatives since the combine, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times tweets. However, Schneider added that is not unusual. Despite his name being floated in trade rumors this offseason, the GM says that he hopes to have Thomas on the roster when the season begins.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

Cardinals To Sign CB Marcus Williams

The Cardinals have signed cornerback Marcus Williams, according to Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic (on Twitter). Williams finished the 2017 season with the Texans. 

Williams started 15 games in three seasons with the Jets, but did not start a contest in 2017. The Jets shopped him last summer and later waived him in October, leading him to Houston. With the Texans, he appeared in ten games as a reserve and totaled 12 tackles, four pass deflections, and came up with an interception against the Seahawks in a late October game. His most notable season came in 2015 when he tallied six interceptions in 13 games with Gang Green.

Williams will now fight for a reserve job on a cornerback depth chart that is presently headlined by Patrick Peterson and Brandon Williams. If the Cardinals can land an impact cornerback early in the draft, they’ll likely have a rookie starting opposite of P2. Other reserve corners in Arizona include C.J. Goodwin, Ronald Zamort, Jonathan Moxey, Jarell Carter, and free agent pickups Bene Benwikere and Louis Young.

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Minor NFL Transactions: 10/10/17

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Cleveland Browns

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

  • Promoted to active roster: WR Ed Eagan

Oakland Raiders

San Francisco 49ers

Jets Activate WR Jalin Marshall

The Jets have activated wide receiver Jalin Marshall from suspension, the club announced today. In a related move, New York has waived cornerback Marcus Williams.Jalin Marshall (Vertical)

Marshall, who was banned four games for PED use, entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2016. While he didn’t contribute much on offense (14 receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns), Marshall served as the Jets’ primary returner during his rookie campaign. He averaged 25.9 yards per kick return and 5.6 yards per punt return last season, and will likely continue in that role upon his return.

Williams, meanwhile, started 15 games during his first three seasons in New York but hasn’t started a contest in 2017. While he graded as the NFL’s No. 67 corner among 110 qualifiers last year, Pro Football Focus has assigned him poor marks this season. The Jets were reportedly shopping Williams earlier this year, and presumably did so before cutting him today, but couldn’t find any takers.

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Jets Have Shopped CB Marcus Williams

The Jets have gauged trade interest in cornerback Marcus Williams recently, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today (Twitter link), who adds New York has “been selling” all offseason.Marcus Williams (vertical)

[RELATED: Jets Shopping Matt Forte]

Given that Gang Green is set to embark on a full-scale rebuild, the concept of dealing Williams doesn’t come as a complete surprise given that he’s entering the final year of his contract. A restricted free agent, Williams is scheduled to earn $2.746MM in 2017, although none of that total is guaranteed. That’s a reasonable figure for a 26-year-old defensive back who appeared in 13 games and played on 457 defensive snaps a season ago. Pro Football Focus assigned Williams middling grades, ranking him as the No. 67 corner among 110 qualifiers.

Williams isn’t projected to start for the Jets next season, as Buster Skrine and Morris Claiborne hold that honor. Instead, Williams — if not traded — will serve as a valuable backup and special teams player. In 2016, Williams played on roughly 20% of New York’s special teams snaps.

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Minor NFL Transactions: 4/13/17

Today’s minor moves:

  • The Jets have re-signed restricted free agent corner Marcus Williams, as Williams has now inked his second-round RFA tender, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (Twitter link). New York tendered two restricted free agents — Williams and center Wesley Johnson — at the second-round level, and both have now signed their tenders, which will pay $2.746MM for the 2017 campaign. Williams, 26, has appeared in 34 games (15 starts) for Gang Green since joining the club in 2014.
  • The Texans have waived linebacker Gerald Rivers, the club announced today. Rivers, 26, has bounced around the league since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2013, spending time with six different clubs in that time. He’s appeared in three career games, but those all came during his rookie campaign. Rivers spent the entire 2016 season on injured reserve, and had inked a reserve deal with Houston in January.
  • Four players signed their exclusive rights tenders today, meaning they’ll return to their clubs on a minimum salary:

Jets To Give Marcus Williams Second-Round RFA Tender

The Jets have already cleared numerous names off their books this offseason and may be in line for similar transactions going forward, but the team plans to retain one of its key defensive pieces for 2017. Marcus Williams is expected to receive a second-round RFA tender, Darryl Slater of NJ.com reports.

Although the league hasn’t released precise tender values just yet, the second-round figure is expected to come in around $2.81MM. Williams has become a UDFA success story for the Jets, being a steady contributor in a secondary that hasn’t seen its big expenditures live up to their contracts. He stands to be a UFA come 2018 if no extension is reached this year.

The Jets have used Williams as a backup for the most part during the past two seasons, and in a secondary that made splash signings in 2015 (Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine), the former low-profile addition could outlast each of them in New York. If the Jets cut Skrine, Williams on his second-round tender price will enter free agency as the Jets’ highest-paid cornerback.

Williams has played in 13 games in each of the past two seasons and started seven games in that span. The 2014 UDFA missed time in 2016 because of a high ankle sprain. Pro Football Focus graded him as the No. 72 full-time corner last season, two spots behind Revis. Williams led the Jets with six interceptions in 2015.

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Jets’ Marcus Williams To Miss Several Games

More bad news for the Jets. After falling to 3-6 with a loss to the division rival Dolphins, Gang Green has learned that they will be without one of their top defensive backs for a while. Marcus Williams is expected to miss several games with a high-ankle sprain, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Marcus Williams (vertical)

Williams has been a bright spot for the Jets during a down season. Through nine games, he leads the team with two interceptions to go along with six passes defensed, 29 total tackles, and one forced fumble. Pro Football Focus has Williams ranked as the 50th best cornerback in the league out of 117 qualified players, but the Jets view him as a more valuable piece than that. Williams has been on the field for 405 snaps this year, the most of any Jet besides starters Darrelle Revis and Buster Skrine.

In other Jets news, Ryan Fitzpatrick has suffered a minor knee injury and that could open the door for a quarterback change.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Jets, Dolphins, Chiefs, Broncos

On the heels of his six-interception 2015 campaign, third-year cornerback Marcus Williams could be the Jets’ most underrated player, opines Brian Costello of the New York Post. The former undrafted free agent from North Dakota State and ex-Texans practice squad member showed off impressive ball-hawking prowess last season despite serving as a fourth corner and playing just 27 percent of the Jets’ defensive snaps, and he’ll spend the next couple months battling Buster Skrine for a starting job opposite Darrelle Revis. As a contract-year player, Williams stands to earn a significant raise over his $600K salary by next offseason if he proves capable of filling a bigger role – whether as a starter or slot corner – in 2016.

Elsewhere in the AFC…

  • There’s a chance Dallas Thomas will beat out first-round pick Laremy Tunsil as the Dolphins’ starting left guard, which would be a nightmare for the team’s fans, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Thomas – whom Pro Football Focus ranked as the league’s second-worst guard among 81 qualifiers last season – seems to be ahead of Tunsil in the pecking order after the rookie struggled in minicamp, per Jackson. Tunsil, the 13th overall pick, was a dominant left tackle at Ole Miss and acknowledged that it’s not easy to learn a new position and playbook.
  • Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Fisher, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2013 draft, sees himself “on a steady incline” after transitioning back to the left side midway through last season, he told BJ Kissel of the team’s website. Fisher, whose pro career hasn’t lived up to his draft status, added that his impressive performance against the J.J. Watt-led Texans in the Chiefs’ 30-0 wild-card round victory “almost seemed like a little bit of a turning point in my career.” Having picked up Fisher’s $11.902 fifth-year option for 2017 in early May, the Chiefs are also clearly encouraged by the progress he made last season. That option is guaranteed for injury only, though, so if Fisher stays healthy and fares poorly this year, Kansas City will have the opportunity to reverse course.
  • Broncos general manager John Elway‘s competitiveness could be a roadblock in the way of a Von Miller deal, according to Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. Kiszla wonders if the Hall of Fame quarterback can put aside his hatred of losing to reach a compromise with Miller, the franchise-tagged linebacker who’s fighting with the Broncos over the lack of guaranteed money in their six-year, $114.5MM offer. The two sides have until July 15 to reach an agreement; if that doesn’t happen, the reigning Super Bowl MVP’s only choices would be to sign the $14MM-plus franchise tender or continue sitting out.