Darious Williams

AFC Rumors: White, Chaisson, Williams, Cannon

After tearing his ACL in late November last season, Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White is a candidate to begin the season on injured reserve, according to Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic. This differs slightly from earlier reports this year that White may be on track to start the 2022 NFL season healthy.

White was just halfway through the second year of his four-year, $69MM extension when he suffered the noncontact injury. His absence was a tough blow for the Bills who fell just short of their second-straight AFC Championship game appearance. With White on injured reserve for at least the first four weeks of the season, Buffalo will depend on rookie first-round pick Kaiir Elam. Elam will team up with returning corners Taron Johnson, Dane Jackson, and Siran Neal to anchor a strong Buffalo secondary until White’s return.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC, starting with a couple of rumors from Duval County:

  • Despite his lofty status as one of the Jaguars’ first-round picks from the last couple of years, defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson‘s roster spot is anything but guaranteed, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN. During his two years in Jacksonville, Chaisson has only started 11 games despite playing in all but two. In those two seasons of work, Chaisson only has 2.0 sacks, 6.0 tackles for loss, and 13 quarterback hits to his name. This leaves him in a precarious spot this offseason as he hopes to carve out his role on the Jaguars’ defensive line and prove his worth as the former No. 20 overall draft pick.
  • ESPN’s DiRocco also dove into Jacksonville’s cornerback room, positing that former Rams cornerback Darious Williams is expected to earn the starting spot at nickel for the Jaguars defense. With Tyson Campbell and Shaquill Griffin in place on the outside, Williams should have the inside track to start in the slot. Four-year Jaguars cornerback Tre Herndon has some experience on the inside, as well, and should provide some quality depth and competition for Williams, but Williams was brought in to play and will likely get the opportunity over Herndon to start the year.
  • Running back Trenton Cannon has bounced around a bit during his first four years in the league, spending time with the Jets, Panthers, Ravens, and 49ers. Cannon signed with the Titans in March and is expected to make the eventual 53-man roster due to his return abilities, according to ESPN’s Turron Davenport. On the running back depth chart for Tennessee, Cannon likely sits behind Derrick Henry, Dontrell Hilliard, and rookie Hassan Haskins, but he has extensive experience as a kick returner, serving as San Francisco’s primary return man down the stretch last season. With the Titans’ primary return man from last year, Chester Rogers, currently off the roster as a free agent, Cannon should be able to solidify a roster spot if he can prove his worth as a special teamer.

Jaguars To Sign Darious Williams

The Jaguars are set to sign free agent cornerback Darious Williams (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Once finalized, it’ll be a three-year deal worth $30MM with incentives that could push the overall value to $39MM. Williams also gets $18MM fully guaranteed, so more than half is already locked in.

Williams had a down year in 2021, thanks in part to an early season ankle injury. Before that, in 2020, Pro Football Focus graded Williams as its No. 4 overall corner as he set new personal watermarks in tackles (44), interceptions (four), and passes defended (14). Last offseason, the Rams let Troy Hill walk and prioritized Williams as a restricted free agent. He rewarded their confidence with four interceptions in 2020, but did not record an INT in 2021.

Now, the Rams will have to replace Williams while dealing with a cap crunch. He leaves Los Angeles with 130 tackles, six interceptions, and two fumble recoveries across 46 career appearances.

Williams’ camp tells RapSheet that he had more lucrative offers elsewhere. But, as a Florida native, he chose to take less money to return home.

Jets To Sign CB D.J. Reed

After bypassing a dire need at cornerback last year, the Jets are diving in early. They are signing D.J. Reed, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).

Reed will come over from the Seahawks — on a three-year deal worth $33MM (including $21MM guaranteed, per Jordan Schultz on Twitter) — but has experience with Robert Saleh. The 49ers drafted Reed in the 2018 fifth round. He played two seasons in San Francisco, providing some system intel as he rejoins Saleh in New York.

A torn pectoral muscle sustained in early August 2020 led Reed from the Bay Area to the Pacific Northwest. The 49ers waived Reed with an injury designation, and the Seahawks claimed him. Reed elevated his profile in Seattle, starting 22 games over the past two seasons in a similar defensive system to the one Saleh deployed with the 49ers. The 5-foot-9 corner intercepted four passes during his Seahawks stay and allowed a career-low 67.8 passer rating when targeted last season.

The Seahawks hoped to re-sign Reed, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets, but did not want to go to the $11MM-per-year level to do so. Gang Green also had Darious Williams and Donte Jackson on its radar, but Rich Cimini of ESPN.com adds Stephon Gilmore was not (Twitter link).

As of now, Reed stands to step in as the Jets’ No. 1 cornerback. They used Bryce Hall and Brandin Echols as their primary starters last season, one in which Saleh’s defense ranked 32nd in both points and yards allowed.

Latest On Rams’ Pending Free Agents

If the Rams hope to repeat as Super Bowl champions, they face a number of key decisions in the coming days. They have money still to be shed, but a number of free agents left to re-sign. 

The biggest names amongst said free agents are Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. The former made an impact on the Rams’ defense after being traded for mid-season. He registered five sacks in eight regular season games in L.A., adding another four in the playoffs. The 32-year-old earned himself a hefty payday, regardless of where he ends up.

According to Jordan Rodrigue of The Athletic (subscription required), the Rams may be able to keep both in the fold. She writes that the team is “confident” their offer to Miller “will be enough to convince him to stay”. She adds that said proposal is thought to be worth between $14MM and $16MM per year over a span of “perhaps” two years, though that salary figure “doesn’t seem to have a hard ceiling”. The three-time All Pro has expressed an interest in staying, but he also plans to at least test the open market, which could very well include a return to Denver.

As for Beckham, Rodrigue notes that the team is staying flexible with respect to contract offers, though it does seem inevitable he will remain there, as was previously reported. She names center Brian Allen as one more significant pending free agent the Rams could try to find the money to retain.

On the other hand, there are noteworthy players who seemed destined to land deals elsewhere, in no small part as a result of the team’s preference to keep Miller and Beckham. Among those Rodrigue predicts will find new homes is defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day. The 26-year-old played a career-high 69% of snaps this year, notching three sacks. Another is cornerback Darious Williams, whom she reports could land a deal valued at upwards of $10MM per season despite a down year in 2021.

Projected to be more than $20MM over the cap at this point, the Rams clearly have work to do. If all goes according to plan, however, they could still field one of the most talented teams in the NFL next year.

Rams Place Jalen Ramsey, Tyler Higbee On COVID-19 List

The Rams have placed cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Dont’e Deayon , along with tight end Tyler Higbee on the COVID-19 reserve list, per a club announcement. As well, Robert Rochell has been placed on Injured Reserve. With that, all four players will be ineligible for tonight’s marquee matchup against the Cardinals. 

The Cardinals can effectively lock up the NFC West crown with a win tonight, leaving the Rams to jockey for Wild Card placement. If Arizona was to complete the season sweep of L.A., they would remain atop the NFC at 11-2, while the loss would drop the Rams to 8-5.

Ramsey’s absence is a huge loss for a secondary that will be facing a Cardinals attack which has recently gotten back to full strength with a healthy Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. Ramsey has 59 tackles and three interception in 2021. Without him, Darious Williams will be forced into an even heavier workload, as will David Long Jr., as the Rams’ cornerback room is suddenly dangerously thin.

Offensively, the loss of Higbee will be felt in the Rams’ passing attack. He had produced 44 receptions for 395 yards and three touchdowns so far this year. Already without wide receiver Robert Woods for the remainder of 2021, even more snaps and targets will likely be coming the way of recently-acquired Odell Beckham Jr. along with sophomore Van Jefferson.

The Cardinals won the first matchup of the season, 37-20, in Week 4. Even more than initially thought, Beckham along with Von Miller – both of whom were acquired after that game – will be counted on for the Rams.

Rams Activate CB Darious Williams From IR

The Rams will have a key defender back in uniform Sunday night. They activated cornerback Darious Williams from IR on Saturday, doing so at their first opportunity.

Williams went down with an ankle injury during the Rams’ Week 5 win in Seattle, but he will be back in uniform for another nationally televised game this week. Los Angeles also bumped defensive back Antoine Brooks and defensive lineman Marquise Copeland from its practice squad.

This next stretch of games qualify as pivotal for Williams, who became the only 2021 restricted free agent to be given a first-round tender. Williams is playing on that $4.77MM RFA tender this season, and should he maintain the course he charted last season, a lucrative long-term deal stands to be in his future. Given the Rams’ pattern of acquiring and extending big stars and letting key role players walk, it is not a lock Williams stays in L.A. beyond this season. But the former UDFA does stand to help this year’s championship-contending squad alongside Jalen Ramsey.

Pro Football Focus graded Williams as its No. 4 overall corner last season. The Rams let Troy Hill walk and prioritized Williams as an RFA. Becoming a regular starter for the first time, Williams intercepted four passes last season. He does not have a pick yet this year.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/3/21

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Dallas Cowboys

Houston Texans

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

San Francisco 49ers

Rams Move CB Darious Williams To IR

The Rams will be without one of their cornerback starters for at least three games. They placed Darious Williams on IR Tuesday. Williams suffered an ankle injury against the Seahawks, and Sean McVay hinted an IR move could be in the cards.

Williams returned to the Rams for a fourth season and did so on a rare arrangement, being the only restricted free agent given a first-round tender this offseason. The young cover man is in a contract year.

After playing behind Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters early in his career, Williams began to see time after the Rams disbanded that duo in 2019. Last season, the former UDFA became a full-time player alongside Jalen Ramsey and Troy Hill. With Hill now in Cleveland and Williams on IR, the Rams are shorthanded at corner.

The team’s defense has already declined from its first-place ranking last season. Through five games, the Rams are 23rd in total defense and 12th in points allowed. Williams, 28, has played 98% of Los Angeles’ defensive snaps, so this will be a major adjustment for the team.

Los Angeles has third-year man David Long and fourth-round rookie Robert Rochell at corner as well. No other pure corners reside on the Rams’ 53-man roster, which will force the team to make at least one addition ahead of its Week 6 game.

The Rams also activated tackle Tremayne Anchrum from IR. A 2020 seventh-round pick, Anchrum played in 12 games last year as a backup but has not yet suited up this season.

Rams CB Darious Williams Signs First-Round Tender

Darious Williams is re-signing with the Rams. The restricted free agent signed his first-round tender today, the team announced on Twitter. This locks the cornerback into a $4.77MM price tag for next season.

The cash-strapped Rams raised a few eyebrows when they extended Williams a first-round tender, making him the only RFA who was tendered at that value. Teams rarely use the Round 1 tender, but the team clearly wanted to ensure that Williams stuck around opposite Jalen Ramsey next season. Had another team signed Williams to an offer sheet, they would have had to sacrifice a first-round pick to the Rams. Williams’ deadline to sign an offer sheet was this Friday.

After taking on a larger role as a backup in 2019, Williams had a breakout season in 2020. The 27-year-old finished the campaign having set career-highs across the board, including tackles (44), interceptions (four), and passes defended (14). He ultimately ranked as Pro Football Focus’ No. 4 overall cornerback.

The Rams cornerbacks corps is set to look a bit different next season; Troy Hill left for Cleveland, while cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant went to Detroit.

Rams Give Darious Williams Round 1 Tender

Although the Rams have the NFL’s worst cap situation presently, they will use the top restricted free agency tender to keep Darious Williams from leaving.

The Rams tendered Williams at the first-round level, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This will mean the emerging cornerback is attached to a $4.77MM price going into the new league year.

Teams rarely use the Round 1 tender, and the Rams are the only team to do so thus far this offseason. But the team clearly wants to ensure Williams sticks around opposite Jalen Ramsey next season. Should another team sign Williams to an offer sheet, it would need to give the Rams a first-round pick. This scenario seems incredibly unlikely.

For a player with three years’ experience, Williams is on the older end (28 today). But he broke through with a big 2020 season, intercepting four passes and rating as Pro Football Focus’ No. 4 overall corner. Williams added a pick-six in the Rams’ first-round win over the Seahawks. With Troy Hill on the verge of unrestricted free agency, Williams profiles as a key player for the Rams to retain.