P.J. Williams

Saints CB P.J. Williams Pleads Guilty To Lesser Charge

Saints cornerback P.J. Williams pleaded guilty today to a reduced charge of reckless operation of a motor vehicle following a drunk driving arrest in January, as Ramon Antonio Vargas of NOLA.com reports. Williams will be required to pay a $340 fine but will not face any other legal consequences. All related charges were dismissed.

Of course, the resolution of Williams’ legal issues is just one hurdle. The NFL can still impose discipline, and given the circumstances of the arrest, Williams may very well face a suspension. Before effecting the traffic stop, officers say they observed Williams driving 80 mph in a 50-mph zone and weaving across lanes without using his turn signals. Williams subsequently refused a Breathalyzer test, leading to his arrest.

The Saints selected Williams in the third round of the 2015 draft, and he may have lasted until the third round because of a previous DUI arrest in early April 2015. Those charges were dropped just before the draft.

New Orleans re-signed the Florida State product to a one-year, $5MM pact in April, and he is slated to once again have a significant role in the Saints’ secondary. Though he finished as Pro Football Focus’ sixth-worst CB in 2018, he played 810 snaps for the NFC’s No. 1 seed last year, and he remains near the top of the club’s cornerback depth chart.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Re-Sign CB P.J. Williams

The Saints brought back one of their cornerbacks on Tuesday, announcing they have agreed to a one-year deal with P.J. Williams. Williams appears to have done well on this pact, with Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweeting the deal is worth $5MM.

A third-round Saints pick in 2015, Williams has been a primary contributor for the past three seasons. He became a part-time starter in each of New Orleans’ most recent two NFC South championship campaigns, starting 13 games over the past two years.

While Williams did not have a strong season in 2018, finishing as Pro Football Focus’ sixth-worst full-time cornerback, he played 810 snaps for the NFC’s No. 1 seed. He became needed again on a near-full-time basis when 2018 UFA addition Patrick Robinson suffered a season-ending injury in September of last year.

Likely representing possible depth for the 2019 Saints, Williams will rejoin a secondary that houses Robinson, Marshon Lattimore and Eli Apple. However, the 25-year-old defender is a suspension candidate, having been arrested for driving under the influence in January.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints CB P.J. Williams Arrested For DUI

Saints cornerback P.J. Williams was arrested in New Orleans for driving under the influence early Wednesday morning, reports Ramon Antonio Vargas of The Advocate.

Williams, 25, was allegedly driving 80 miles per hour in a 50 mph zone, while authorities also indicated Williams failed to used a traffic lane properly and failed to signal a turn. After being stopped, Williams refused a Breathalyzer test, which — as Vargas notes — is grounds for a drunk-driving arrest in Louisiana.

Williams was previously arrested for DUI in early April 2015, but those charges were later dropped just before the NFL draft. Still, the incident may have forced Williams’ draft stock to tumble, as he was subsequently chosen in the third round by the Saints after being identified as a potential Day 1 selection. In 2014, while Williams was still at Florida State, he crashed his vehicle into another car and left the scene, but eventually received only a traffic ticket.

Last season, Williams appeared in 15 games and played the second-most snaps of any Saints cornerback, but graded as a bottom-six CB league-wide, per Pro Football Focus. His rookie contract with New Orleans expires in March, at which point he will hit the free agent market. Given his off-field issues and his lackluster play, Williams may struggle to find guaranteed money this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Rumors: Lynch, Eagles, Saints

Aaron Lynch has an opportunity to play the Leo position in the 49ers‘ new 4-3 defense, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. That position in Robert Saleh‘s Seahawks-influenced scheme is viewed as the team’s top pass-rushing talent, but Lynch admitted the reports about his weight that surfaced earlier this offseason were true. The fourth-year edge defender clarified the weight struggles he’s having. Branch reports Lynch is currently in the 280s and wants to get down to around 270 pounds, but during his last year in San Francisco’s 3-4 scheme, Lynch ballooned to north of 300. This came during training camp, before he served a four-game suspension for substances of abuse. The then-outside linebacker was notified of a suspension last July. Lynch’s sack total plummeted to 1.5 last season after he registered 12.5 between his first two years.

I know last year I probably wasn’t as committed,” Lynch said, via Branch. “I mean, I was committed, but I basically [had] some off-field issues, getting suspended and getting hurt. So I don’t think my mind was in the right place as far as how the season was going. I wouldn’t say I wasn’t committed. I’m working my ass off right now. Getting down to the weight I need to get, doing everything they want me to do.”

The 24-year-old Lynch not making weight could result in the 49ers moving on from him, but the team is thin on pass-rushers. Branch writes the team did not draft a “legitimate Leo” candidate until the sixth round (Pita Taumoepenu of Utah), and the Bay Area-based writer isn’t categorizing No. 3 overall pick Solomon Thomas (8.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss in 2016) as such.

Here’s more from the NFC.

  • Ron Brooks is still recovering from the quadriceps injury he suffered in October of 2016 and did not participate in team drills during the first segment of Eagles OTAs, Dave Spadaro of PhiladelphiaEagles.com reports. Brooks took a paycut in March that trimmed nearly $1MM off his 2017 salary. He will make $1MM this season. The Eagles remain thin at cornerback after losing Nolan Carroll and drafting Sidney Jones, who may not be ready to play in 2017. Rookie third-rounder Rasul Douglas lined up as Philly’s No. 3 corner, per Spadaro, with Jalen Mills shifting inside when the team lined up in that formation last week.
  • LeGarrette Blount‘s one-year deal on a $1.25MM base salary is plenty worth it for the Eagles to find out if he can thrive outside of New England, Bob Brookover of Philly.com writes, noting that Blount never being paid more than $1.85MM in a season doesn’t add up with his career production. The 30-year-old rushed for a career-high 18 touchdowns last season — the most any NFL back’s totaled since Adrian Peterson in 2009 — but averaged just 3.9 yards per carry. While he’s averaged 5.0 yards per tote twice, those seasons came with lighter workloads.
  • The Saints keeping their corners healthy could see the position look rather deep compared to the barren outlook of 2016, Nick Underhill of The Advocate writes. Marshon Lattimore joins Sterling Moore, Delvin Breaux and P.J. Williams in a secondary that did not feature a lot of the latter duo due to injuries last season. Underhill adds that Williams could see time in the slot for New Orleans and would have last year under optimal circumstances. Any optimism can, of course, be countered by mentioning how Lattimore comes with a history of hamstring trouble and that Breaux and Williams suffered severe injuries in 2016. But under ideal conditions, the Saints appear to be much deeper than they were for most of 2016.
  • Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson wouldn’t mind some competition coming in to push Kellen Moore for the team’s backup job.

Saints Place CB P.J. Williams On IR

The Saints are placing cornerback P.J. Williams on IR, as Nick Underhill of The Advocate tweets. To fill his roster spot, the Saints are signing offensive tackle Tony Hills (Twitter link).

P.J. Williams (vertical)

The loss of Williams is another significant blow to New Orleans’ secondary, which is already without No. 1 cornerback Delvin Breaux for several weeks because of the broken fibula he suffered in Week 1.

Like Breaux, Williams is a starter for the Saints. The second-year man missed his rookie year with a torn hamstring, but his latest issue looked far more serious at first. In the opening quarter of the Saints’ 16-13 loss to the Giants on Sunday, Williams’ head hit the right knee of Giants tight end Larry Donnell. There were initial fears that Williams had a spinal cord injury, and he had to be carted off the field on a stretcher. In the end, Williams emerged with a concussion severe enough to keep him out for the foreseeable future.

With both Breaux and Williams down, the 0-2 Saints are now especially thin at corner as they prepare to face the NFC South rival Falcons this week. Undrafted rookie Ken Crawley took over for Williams on Sunday. The Saints’ other options include another undrafted rookie, De’vante Harris, as well as Sterling Moore and B.W. Webb.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Saints, Lions, Falcons

With the Friday release of Keenan Lewis, the Saints have now severed ties with all but one cornerback who made their roster two years ago, observes Joel Erickson of the New Orleans Advocate. That corner is Brian Dixon, who has begun his career with 32 straight appearances since the Saints signed him as an undrafted free agent from Northwest Missouri State. Of New Orleans’ current group of corners, P.J. Williams stands to benefit the most from Lewis’ exit, writes Erickson, who adds that the 2015 third-round pick has impressed this summer. Williams missed his rookie season with a torn hamstring, but the Florida State product is now set to start opposite Delvin Breaux.

Elsewhere in the NFC…

  • While the Lions value backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky’s veteran leadership, that might not be enough for the 11th-year man to fend off Jake Rudock for the backup role or – depending on how many signal-callers the team keeps – a roster spot, writes Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. Rudock, a sixth-round rookie out of Michigan, has outplayed the 33-year-old Orlovsky through the Lions’ first two preseason matchups. In Detroit’s game Thursday against Cincinnati, Orlovsky tossed his second pick-six of the exhibition season. Overall, in addition to the two interceptions, he has thrown a touchdown while completing 24 of 39 passes for 247 yards. Rudock has hit on 16 of 22 attempts for 162 yards, adding both a score and a pick.
  • Falcons punter Matt Bosher suffered a chest injury in the team’s game against the Browns on Thursday, so Atlanta will work out free agent Brandon Fields, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. Fields might only be a temporary solution if he signs, however, as McClure notes that Bosher is likely to be fine. A Dolphin from 2007-14, Fields played two games last season with the Saints and averaged 41.2 yards (35.1 net) on 10 punts.
  • In case you missed it, the NFL released a statement Friday explaining why it only suspended Giants kicker Josh Brown for one game after past domestic violence allegations surfaced.

Saints Claim Sammy Seamster Off Waivers

5:35pm: After trading Jalen Saunders to the Patriots, the Saints had 14 players to shed prior to today’s deadline. They got the job done and we have the full list of moves, courtesy of The Times-Picayune’s Evan Woodbery.

Claimed Off Waivers:

  • Sammy Seamster, CB (waived by Dolphins)

Released:

  • Erik Lorig, FB

Waived:

  • Antonio Johnson, OL
  • Lance Lewis, WR
  • Ronald Powell, LB
  • Markus Pierce-Brewster, DE
  • Nick Toon, WR
  • Terrence Frederick, CB
  • R.J. Harris, WR
  • Chris Young, LB
  • David Hunter, DT
  • Cole Manhart, OL

Waived/Injured:

  • Vinnie Sunseri, S

Placed on IR:

  • Anthony Spencer, OLB
  • P.J. Williams, CB

3:32pm: The Saints have waived defensive tackle David Hunter and linebacker Chris Young, according to Evan Woodbery of The Times-Picayune (Twitter links). In addition to those moves, New Orleans has waived wide receiver Nick Toon, undrafted rookie receiver R.J. Harris, cornerback Terrence Frederick, (via Twitter links).

Hunter and Young were brought in as a camp fill-ins after the Saints suffered multiple injuries in their first preseason game. Weeks later, it’s not a huge surprise to see both players let go.

Draft Signings: Browns, Bucs, Titans

With less room for negotiations on rookie contracts under the new CBA, draft picks are coming to terms with their teams quicker than ever, and a few more have struck deals already today. Here are the latest updates on mid-to-late rounders reaching agreements with their respective clubs, with contract information provided by Over The Cap….

  • The Browns have officially brought a pair of draftees into the fold, announcing today in a press release that they’ve formally signed third-round defensive lineman Xavier Cooper and sixth-round fullback Malcolm Johnson. Their signing bonuses will be worth about $592K and $119K respectively.
  • Sixth-round wideout Kaelin Clay has signed his rookie deal with the Buccaneers, as Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com tweets. Clay, the second Tampa Bay pick to sign his deal, after Jameis Winston, will get a $130K+ signing bonus.
  • The Titans have started to lock up their draft picks, agreeing to terms today with sixth-round outside linebacker Deiontrez Mount, tweets Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. Mount’s four-year contract will have a total value of $2.428MM, including a signing bonus of about $148K, and a 2015 cap hit of approximately $472K.
  • Saints third-round draft pick P.J. Williams signed his rookie contract on Tuesday, according to a post on his Instagram account. New Orleans has now inked all of its picks with the exception of Stephone Anthony and Andrus Peat.
  • The Eagles and sixth round draft pick JaCorey Shepherd have agreed to terms on a four-year contract, Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com tweets.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Rapoport On Browns, Vikings, P.J. Williams

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com has passed along a handful of noteworthy draft nuggets via Twitter this afternoon, so let’s check out what he has for us….

  • According to Rapoport (Twitter link), the Browns have spoken to Washington within the past week about possibly moving up to No. 5. Cleveland has two first-rounders to work with, and Washington GM Scot McCloughan indicated today that he was open to moving down and picking extra picks, so there could be a match there. Of course, as Rapoport adds, the Browns have “touched base” with most teams in the top 10.
  • Another pick to keep an eye on is the No. 11 selection, which currently belongs to the Vikings. Rapoport tweets that Minnesota wants ammo to move around in the draft, and points out that the 11th pick is an appealing one because fifth-year option prices decrease outside of the top 10. As such, there may be potential trade partners interested in moving up to that spot.
  • Lawyer Jonathan Simon tells Rapoport (Twitter links) that the DUI case against Florida State cornerback P.J. Williams has been dismissed. According to the paperwork filed in the case, the signs of impairment claimed by the arresting officer were not corroborated on video. The timing of the dismissal is good news for Williams, whose draft stock may have taken a hit if the case had moved forward.
  • Rapoport identifies the Dolphins, Jaguars, and Texans as some teams that may be interested in drafting Georgia running back Todd Gurley (Twitter link).
  • Oklahoma’s Jordan Phillips and Mississippi State’s Preston Smith are two defensive linemen who could sneak into the back of the first round on Thursday, tweets Rapoport.

Draft Notes: Ray, Scherff, Peters, Williams

There was some concern that Missouri pass rusher Shane Ray, who is expected to come off the board early in the draft next Thursday night, would require surgery on a troublesome foot injury. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links), Ray’s injury – which is similar to turf toe – was discovered during a team visit and prompted a visit to a foot specialist, who recommended rest rather than a surgical procedure, good news for the young edge defender.

Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net (Twitter link) hears that the Cowboys flagged Ray as needing surgery, but not all teams – and not all doctors, apparently – were convinced it was required.

Let’s check in on a few more Thursday draft updates….

  • Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff is drawing “heavy interest” from teams drafting between the fifth and ninth spots in the first round, a source tells Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post (Twitter link). The clubs currently in those spots? Washington, the Jets, the Bears, the Falcons, and the Giants.
  • In addition to making 17 pre-draft visits to teams, Washington cornerback Marcus Peters had individual workouts for the Falcons, Panthers, Buccaneers, and Dolphins, tweets Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • Speaking to Maggie Gray on SI Now, Florida State cornerback P.J. Williams said that most teams are telling him his DUI incident shouldn’t have a huge impact on his draft stock.
  • Montana edge defender Zack Wagenmann, who is projected as a mid- to late-round pick, broke his foot recently during a private workout with an NFL team, writes Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. Wagenmann won’t be able to participate in football-related activities for eight weeks, but is aiming to be ready for training camp.
  • Caplan also passes along an update on Hobart offensive lineman Ali Marpet, reporting (via Twitter) that Marpet visited the Chargers earlier this week, and has worked out for the Cardinals, Bengals, and Texans.
  • Besides confirming some of his previously-reported visits, T.J. Clemmingsdraft diary for USA Today (via Tom Pelissero) added some new teams to his list of possible suitors. According to the Pittsburgh tackle himself, he visited the Bears and had a private workout with the Panthers. Clemmings will also privately work out for the Dolphins tomorrow.
  • Florida linebacker Neiron Ball has made pre-draft visits with the Patriots, Broncos, Buccaneers, and Texans, writes Wilson. Ball has also worked out privately for the Falcons, Rams, Steelers, Cardinals, and Texans.