Damien Williams

Falcons Sign RB Damien Williams

Damien Williams is taking his talents to Atlanta. The free agent running back is signing with the Falcons, reports NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter).

Williams is inking a one-year deal with Atlanta. Doug Kyed of PFF tweets that the deal is worth $1.62MM, including a $500K signing bonus. ESPN’s Field Yates tweeted earlier today that the running back was set to meet with the Falcons organization.

The 29-year-old spent the 2021 season with the Bears, but his numbers were a far cry from what he put up during his stint with the Chiefs. After collecting 1,127 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns in two years with Kansas City, Williams finished 2021 with only 267 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in 12 games (two starts). However, the RB clearly made an impression on former Bears GM Ryan Pace, who is now working in Atlanta’s front office.

Williams spent the first four seasons of his career with the Dolphins. It’s been a while, but the RB also had a stint as a kick returner during his time in Miami.

In Atlanta, Williams will be joining a depth chart that was led by free agent Cordarrelle Patterson last season. At the moment, Atlanta has Mike Davis, Qadree Ollison, and Caleb Huntley under contract.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/23/21

Here is the run of Week 7 Saturday minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Promoted: LB Darius Harris, LB Christian Rozeboom
  • Placed on IR: TE Jody Fortson

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Bears Place Damien Williams On Reserve/COVID-19 List

Amid what is expected to be a lengthy stretch without starter David Montgomery, the Bears may also be without their second-string running back in Week 6. Damien Williams is now on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list.

Williams’ Thursday placement on the coronavirus list will make his suiting up against the Packers on Sunday a difficult task. Vaccinated players can return after a positive test if they receive two negative COVID tests 24 hours apart. Unvaccinated players who test positive are shut down for 10 days. Williams tested positive, Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed tweets.

[RELATED: Bears Move Montgomery To IR]

This development will likely force the Bears to give the ball-carrying keys to rookie Khalil Herbert. The sixth-round pick logged just three carries in Chicago’s first four games but split time with Williams against the Raiders, taking 18 handoffs and gaining 75 yards.

Williams was a COVID-19 opt-out last year, skipping the Chiefs’ 2020 season. He had previously been effective after stepping in as a starter post-Kareem Hunt in Kansas City, but the opt-out ended his run with the team. The Chiefs cut Williams earlier this year, leading the 29-year-old back to the Bears.

Through five games, Williams’ rushing total sits at 137 yards. He has added two touchdowns this season. Williams expressed hesitation on being vaccinated in June, though he said he expected to do so at some point. His October vaccination status is unclear.

Extra Points: Newton, Patriots, Williams, Bears, XFL

It was widely known that Patriots quarterback Cam Newton wasn’t his self physically during his last couple years with the Panthers. But he recently revealed just how bad his health situation was. In a video he just posted this past week (that was recorded in September of 2020), Newton said he hadn’t felt good in years, via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com. “Last time I’ve been healthy?” Newton said. “Honest, 2016.”

I threw an interception,” Newton explained, describing the shoulder injury he first suffered in December of 2016. “I tried to go make the tackle, and I tried to push him out, and I extended my arm, and I messed up my AC joint. And ever since then, there’s just been a part of me that’s just been a wounded dog. Like a wounded lion almost. Just, ‘I’m not right.’ I feel good at times, but when I’m running I still feel it. So instead of running them over, I’m going to turn this shoulder and just go down.” Newton went on to say that he had felt like the shoulder finally healed ahead of his 2020 season with the Patriots. Obviously that season didn’t go how anybody around the team hoped for, and it’s curious timing as to why Newton posted this video now. He’s expected to battle it out with rookie Mac Jones for the starting job in training camp.

Here’s more from around the football universe as we wrap up a sleepy Sunday:

  • Damien Williams was a hero in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV win, but he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 and his mother having cancer. He was then released by Kansas City back in March, and promptly signed with the Bears within 10 days. It sounds like he knew exactly where he wanted to go, as Larry Mayer of the team’s official site passes along. “Sitting out a year and then coming back, I really didn’t want to learn a whole new system,” Williams said. “Coming here and kind of having the same system, same plays, it was easy for me.” Williams was referring to the similarity in Matt Nagy’s offensive scheme to Andy Reid’s. Nagy, of course, is part of the ever-growing Reid coaching tree, and was an assistant under him from 2008 all the way until becoming Chicago’s head coach in 2018. Clearly the familiarity was important to Williams, who turned 29 in April. With David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen returning from an ACL tear, and now Williams, the Bears should have a solid backfield in 2021.
  • We heard this past week that the XFL and CFL would not be pursuing a potential partnership/merger. That doesn’t mean we’ve heard the last of crossover talk. MLSE, the company that owns the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, was the “catalyst for the XFL discussion,” within the league, sources told Dan Ralph of the Toronto Star. Ralph highlights the Argonauts breaking off and joining the XFL for their spring 2023 season as a possible solution. It’d be interesting to see, and could serve as a potential test-run for the NFL one day playing games in Toronto, something that has long been talked about.

Bears To Sign Damien Williams

The Bears are adding to their running back room. Chicago has agreed to terms on a deal with free agent Damien Williams, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). It’s a one-year pact, he notes.

Williams was a COVID-19 opt out of the 2020 season, and the Chiefs then cut him last week after the drafting of Clyde Edwards-Helaire made him expendable. As Rapsheet points out there’s some familiarity here, as Bears head coach Matt Nagy is an Andy Reid protege who runs a similar offensive scheme. New Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor also coached Williams in Miami.

An Oklahoma product, Williams got his NFL start as an UDFA with the Dolphins in 2014. After four years there as a role player, Williams signed with the Chiefs in 2018 and took on a bigger load. In 2019 he was the team’s leading rusher despite playing in only 11 games, carrying the ball 111 times for 498 yards and five touchdowns.

In Kansas City’s Super Bowl win that season he came up huge, rushing for 104 yards and scoring two touchdowns. That’s the last game he’s played. He’ll turn 29 next month, and will join a backfield that includes last year’s workhorse David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen returning from injury.

Chiefs To Release RB Damien Williams

Damien Williams opted out of the 2020 season; he will now be looking for a new team for the 2021 slate. The Chiefs are cutting the veteran running back, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter).

The Chiefs, who have since established Clyde Edwards-Helaire as their centerpiece back, will save $2.7MM in cap space by releasing Williams. Barely a year after making a case for Super Bowl LIV MVP honors, the soon-to-be 29-year-old is now on the market.

After the Chiefs’ ugly Kareem Hunt situation led to his release midway through the 2018 season, Williams emerged as a key player. He held the team’s starting running back job throughout the 2019 season, holding off LeSean McCoy for the position. Williams also scored 10 total playoff touchdowns as a Chief, doing so in just five postseason games.

A former Dolphins backup, Williams signed with the Chiefs in 2018. Shortly after the team cut Hunt, it moved to extend Williams on a two-year, $5.1MM deal. Because of Williams’ COVID-19 opt-out choice, that deal tolled to 2021. But after the team once was set to deploy a backfield featuring both Williams and Edwards-Helaire, the latter will continue to operate as the featured cog.

Chiefs’ LDT, Damien Williams Likely To Return

The Chiefs found their way back to the Super Bowl, despite losing guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and running back Damien Williams to COVID-19 opt-outs. However, both players are expected to return for the 2021 season, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).

[RELATED: Chiefs, Eric Bieniemy Expected To Agree To Extension]

Duvernay-Tardif, a medical school graduate, was the first NFL player to exercise his right to opt out. Since then, he’s been volunteering at a long-term care facility in Quebec. Duvernay-Tardif was set to play on his five-year, $42.36MM deal. Instead, his contract has tolled, meaning that his deal will resume in 2021 and extend through the 2022 season. The Chiefs surely wish they could have him back today, given that they’re down multiple starters on the front five.

Williams, 29 in April, was inconsistent in the 2019 regular season, but he came up big in the playoffs. Williams scored six touchdowns in the postseason and could have won the Super Bowl LIV MVP award if not for Patrick Mahomes‘ performance. In that game, “Playoff Damien” managed133 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns en route to his first ring.

2020 NFL Opt Out Tracker

Per an agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA, players with COVID-19 health concerns can opt out of the 2020 season. Initially, the deadline was believed to be Tuesday, August 4. Talks between the league and the union have pushed it to August 6.

Chiefs guard and medical school graduate Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first player to officially opt out. Scores of players followed.

Here’s the rundown, so far:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • T Brad Seaton

Tennessee Titans

  • OL Anthony McKinney

Washington Football Team

Free agents

Chiefs RB Damien Williams Opts Out

The Chiefs will lose another starter from their Super Bowl champion team to an opt-out decision. Damien Williams informed the team he will not play this season.

This news follows longtime Kansas City guard starter Laurent Duvernay-Tardif‘s decision, which preceded several players’ choices to bypass 2020 amid COVID-19 concerns. Williams became the Chiefs’ starting running back shortly after the team waived Kareem Hunt in 2018. He was again set for a key role this season.

Williams, 28, delivered an inconsistent regular season; the Chiefs ranked 23rd in rushing offense. But the former Dolphins backup again produced in the playoffs. Williams scored six playoff touchdowns and had the best non-Patrick Mahomes claim to the Super Bowl LIV MVP award after totaling 133 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns. He scored four TDs in the 2018 postseason.

Kansas City, however, has some interesting options in its backfield. First-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire will now be on track to start this season. The LSU product was one of college football’s most difficult tackling assignments last season and will join a high-powered Chiefs offense — one now in need of a starting running back. Edwards-Helaire is the only running back an Andy Reid-led team has selected in Round 1 during the future Hall of Fame coach’s 21 years as a head coach. The Chiefs also have young backs Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams as options beyond Edwards-Helaire.

Williams’ contract ran through 2020. He was to make $1.85MM in base salary this season on a deal that will now toll to 2021.

Fine Updates: Simmons, Fisher, Williams, Bosa

The NFL will not fine Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons for conduct during Tennessee’s 28-12 victory in the divisional playoff round, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN. After the contest, Ravens offensive guard Marshal Yanda accused Simmons of spitting on him during the contest. Per Hensley, the NFL found no evidence to substantiate those claims.

For what it’s worth, Simmons did not deny spitting on Yanda when he was asked about it on Wednesday. Had the NFL prooved that Simmons had indeed spit in his opponent’s face, he would have been subject to an unsportsmanlike conduct fine of $14,037.

A few other players were unable to avoid hits to their checkbooks:

  • Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Fisher went viral online after he celebrated by pouring beer over himself during Kansas City’s divisional round victory over the Texans. While the NFL shared Fisher’s celebration on its official Twitter account, it appears the NFL’s marketers and executors of the codes of conduct are not on the same page. Fisher was fined $14,037 by the league on Saturday, when the league announced this week’s round of fines, according to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk.
  • Fisher was not the lone Chiefs player to receive a fine for a celebration, running back Damien Williams received a $10,527 fine for taunting, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. After he scored his third touchdown in last week’s game, he placed the ball directly in front of a Texan defensive lineman, which cost the team a fifteen-yard penalty and now will cost Williams more than ten thousand dollars.
  • Defensive end Nick Bosa was fined $28,025 for an illegal blindside block in the 49ers 27-10 victory over the Vikings in last week’s divisional round, according to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk. Normally a defensive player would not be subject to such a fine, but after his defensive teammate, Richard Sherman, intercepted one of Kirk Cousins passes, Bosa got overzealous in a block on offensive tackle Brian O’Neill that forced O’Neill to leave the game for a couple of series.