Marcus Williams (S)

Ravens Eyeing Week 14 Return For S Marcus Williams, RB J.K. Dobbins

The Ravens are in line to receive a significant reinforcement on both sides of the ball soon, but that will not happen in the coming days. Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed on Friday that neither safety Marcus Williams nor running back J.K. Dobbins will play on Sunday against the Broncos.

Last week, Baltimore designated Williams for return, opening his three-week return window. The former Saint signed a five-year, $70MM deal in the offseason, which led to significant expectations right away from a production standpoint. The 26-year-old delivered in that regard to begin his Ravens tenure, racking up three interceptions and five pass deflections in his first five games of the season.

A dislocated wrist has kept him sidelined since Week 6, however, an injury which the team quickly acknowledged would probably linger into December. Williams’ return would be a welcomed sight to the Ravens, though, given his early contributions and the team’s performance on defense this season. Baltimore ranks second in the league against the run (averaging 82 yards allowed per game on average), but 27th against the pass (254 yards). His ball-hawking skills would add further to a unit which already sits top-1o in the league with 11 picks.

Dobbins, meanwhile, returned to practice earlier this week. He spent the 2021 campaign – and the early portions of this year’s regular season – rehabbing a major knee injury suffered last summer. The 2020 second-rounder made his long-awaited return in Week 3, and played for each of the next three games after that. Dobbins logged double-digit carries just once during that span, however, and was shut down again after a cleanup procedure in October. A return to the field for the stretch run will be significant in part due to the boost he will provide the Ravens’ second-ranked rushing attack, but mainly because it will mark the first time since the 2020 postseason that both Dobbins and backup Gus Edwards will be available at the same time.

The Ravens have four of their eight allocated IR activations remaining at the moment, but two of those will be used when Williams and Dobbins are brought back. That will leave the team in relatively good shape from a health perspective as they look to retain their lead in the AFC North.

S Marcus Williams Returns To Practice

Out since suffering a dislocated wrist in Week 5, Marcus Williams is back at Ravens practice. The team designated the free agent pickup for return Wednesday.

Baltimore has three weeks to activate Williams, who has been ticketed for a December return for a bit now. John Harbaugh said he expects the sixth-year safety to return at some point next month. Wednesday’s transaction keeps pointing Williams in that direction.

The Ravens gave Williams a five-year, $70MM contract to come over from New Orleans, where he spent 2021 as a franchise-tagged player. Baltimore loaded up at safety this offseason, adding Williams and first-round pick Kyle Hamilton. Despite Hamilton’s first-round pedigree, Geno Stone has worked as Williams’ primary replacement. Hamilton has yet to make his first start, though the Notre Dame product’s snap percentages have ticked up slightly in the games without Williams.

The prospect of the Ravens having Williams back opens the door to a veteran-laden defense forming for the stretch run. The Ravens have brought Jason Pierre-Paul and Roquan Smith into the fold this season and have accomplished vets at every position. Calais Campbell, Justin Houston, Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters also reside on a defense built to be one of the best units now.

Mike Macdonald‘s crew has not fully lived up to expectations just yet, but the group has improved since its run of early-season collapses. The Ravens have moved up to 10th in scoring defense, after shutting down struggling Saints and Panthers offenses, and have won four straight to keep their AFC North lead.

Following an injury-plagued 2021, the Ravens have most of their defensive troops healthy at this point. The team has seen Tyus Bowser debut after missing a chunk of games due to a January Achilles tear. Williams and second-round pick David Ojabo represent late-season reinforcements. The latter has yet to debut since going down with an Achilles tear during a pre-draft workout. The Ravens already activated Ojabo; they have four injury activations remaining. J.K. Dobbins also looms on the radar for a late-season activation.

Ravens Eyeing December Return For S Marcus Williams

Marcus Williams is now eligible to return from injured reserve, but the veteran safety’s dislocated wrist pointed to a longer timetable than the four-week minimum. The Ravens do expect the free agency addition to play again this season.

John Harbaugh said (via’s Clifton Brown) the team is aiming for a Williams December return. Williams has not encountered any setbacks, and a re-emergence “sometime in December” is the target. The Ravens have used four of their eight injury activations already, with rookie tight end Charlie Kolar being No. 4. J.K. Dobbins would stand to represent No. 5. Williams’ activation will limit the team’s flexibility down the stretch, but the Ravens are planning for him to be back late in the season.

The Ravens loaded up at safety this offseason, signing Williams to a five-year, $70MM deal and drafting Kyle Hamilton in the first round. Williams’ pact continued a steady run of big Ravens investments in the position, following the likes of Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson and Earl Thomas. The wrist dislocation in Week 5, however, paused Williams’ initial Baltimore season and has led to the ex-Saint’s longest absence as a pro. Williams entered this season having missed just five games in five seasons.

Rather than dramatically increasing Hamilton’s workload, Baltimore has used Geno Stone alongside Chuck Clark in Williams’ absence. While Hamilton did clear the 50% snap barrier for the first time all season against the Saints on Monday, Stone has not missed a snap over the past three weeks. Despite coming into the season with just one start in two years, the former Ravens seventh-round pick has fit in on a defense full of high-profile veterans. Pro Football Focus ranks both Stone and Hamilton as top-10 safeties this season.

Baltimore’s defensive production under new DC Mike Macdonald remains a bit south of where it was during most of the Don Martindale era, excluding 2021’s injury-flooded mess. The team ranks outside the top half in scoring and total defense. But Macdonald’s unit turned in a strong effort in New Orleans; it also has registered the league’s third-most takeaways (16) and ranks fourth in sacks (27). The Ravens now have six All-Pros (Calais Campbell, Justin Houston, Jason Pierre-Paul, Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Roquan Smith) on their defense, with first-rounders Hamilton, Patrick Queen and Odafe Oweh also in the fold. Putting Williams back in this mix will add intrigue to Baltimore’s run at its first division title since 2019.

The Ravens expect Gus Edwards and DeSean Jackson to be good to go after their Week 10 bye, Harbaugh said. Both are battling hamstring injuries, with Jackson suffering his latest hamstring setback in his Baltimore debut.

Ravens S Marcus Williams Headed To IR

Not long after last night’s win, it was revealed that the Ravens would be without one of their key defensive contributors for an extended period. Today, head coach John Harbaugh confirmed that safety Marcus Williams will go on injured reserve, though he is expected back at some point this season. 

Williams suffered a dislocated wrist on Sunday against the Bengals, and was forced to leave the game early. For a stretch, he attempted to play through the injury before being forced to the sidelines. “He gutted it out,” Harbaugh said, via ESPN’s Jamison Hensley“He didn’t really say too much about it. So I don’t think anybody realized how serious it was until they got inside and took a look at it.”

The 26-year-old spent the first five seasons of his career with the Saints. Over that time, he established himself as one of the league’s top ball-hawks with 15 interceptions and 38 passes defensed. He therefore entered this offseason as one of the league’s most coveted defensive free agents, and landed a five-year, $70MM deal in March.

Williams’ start to his Baltimore tenure represented an effective return on investment for the Ravens. He registered three interceptions across his first two contests, and has allowed an opposing passer rating of 67.1, the lowest such mark of his career. His absence will be felt in a Ravens secondary whose performances (at least heading into Week 5) had been marked by significant blown leads.

Veteran Chuck Clark remains as a steady presence on Baltimore’s back end. Who he will be paired with becomes an important question, however. 2020 seventh-rounder Geno Stone filled in for Williams last night, but has primarily been used on special teams in his young career. Another option is Kyle Hamilton, the team’s top pick in this year’s draft and whose addition led Clark to request a trade in the offseason.

Now atop the AFC North, the Ravens will likely use a combination of both Stone and Hamilton while attempting to make up for the loss of Williams. The way their defense reacts will be worth watching throughout his absence.

Week 5 Injury Roundup: Mayfield, Hill, Williams, Concussions

The Panthers’ losing streak continued yesterday, leading to questions not only about head coach Matt Rhule‘s job security, but also Baker Mayfield‘s hold on the No. 1 quarterback job. Performance may not affect the ability of the latter to suit up for Week 6, however, as he was seen in a walking boot after the team’s loss to the 49ers.

“A little painful right now,” he said when asked about the injury to his left foot. “I’m not real sure exactly what it is. We’ll examine that tomorrow and find out. So right now I’m managing the pain and learning to step in the boot.”

Mayfield will undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the injury, per Ellis Williams of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). With Sam Darnold still on the mend from the ankle injury he sustained in the preseason, and rookie Matt Corral out for the season, the Panthers would turn to P.J. Walker should Mayfield miss any time. The former XFLer game into last night’s contest for Carolina’s final possession, as Mayfield was suffering from the effects of the injury and the score was out of reach.

Here are some other injury updates following the league’s Week 5 action:

  • Tyreek Hill was also seen in a walking boot following Miami’s loss to the Jets (Twitter link via ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques). Head coach Mike McDaniel said that he was stepped on late in the contest, leaving his Week 6 availability in the air. Hill has been exactly what the Dolphins paid for (in draft capital and financial commitments) so far, with 38 catches for 528 yards and two touchdowns. His average of just under 105 receiving yards per game is the highest of his career, so any absence would be significant for the team’s offense.
  • The Ravens’ defense delivered a noteworthy performance last night against the Bengals, but lost a key member of the unit along the way. Head coach John Harbaugh said after the game that safety Marcus Williams dislocated his wrist, and will miss a “significant” amount of time as a result. That will deal a major blow to Baltimore’s secondary, as the high-priced free agent signing has been productive this season with three interceptions and five pass deflections.
  • While Dolphins QB Teddy Bridgewater earned the unwanted distinction of becoming the league’s first player to be removed via the new concussion protocols yesterday, he was not alone in that regard. Per team announcements, Saints wideout Chris Olave, Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth and Browns cornerback Denzel Ward were each ruled out of their teams’ respective games with concussions. Under the new regulations, it has been acknowledged, some players will be removed from games and not allowed to return despite passing initial checks for concussion symptoms.
  • Going back to the TNF contest which kicked off Week 5, the Broncos’ injury woes continue. Long snapper Jacob Bobenmoyer will miss “extended time” after suffering an injury to the hand/wrist area, 9News’ Mike Klis tweets. Losing the 25-year-old for the foreseeable future will add to the league-leading 12 players the Broncos already have on IR, which have no doubt contributed to the team’s underwhelming start to the season.

Eagles Made “Competitive Offer” For Marcus Williams; Latest On WR, QB Pursuits

The Eagles have signed edge defender Haason Reddick and wide receiver Zach Pascal this offseason and otherwise have been mostly quiet in terms of adding outside talent. But that hasn’t been for lack of trying.

As Tim McManus of (subscription required) writes, Philadelphia made an effort to sign former Saints safety Marcus Williams. Per Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (subscription required), the Eagles made a competitive offer to Williams, who ultimately signed a five-year, $70MM contract with the Ravens.

GM Howie Roseman also took some big swings at other positions. We already knew that the club nearly completed a trade for Falcons wideout Calvin Ridley before news of his gambling suspension surfaced, and according to McLane, the Eagles also had interest in WR Robert Woods. Woods was under contract with the Rams and was recently traded to the Titans, but Los Angeles gave him a say in his next destination, and he chose Tennessee over Philadelphia.

Precipitating the Rams’ trade of Woods was the club’s acquisition of Allen Robinson, whom Roseman also pursued. But Robinson, like Woods and most other notable players changing teams this offseason, elected to go elsewhere.

As McLane writes, the Eagles’ status as an also-ran when it comes to this year’s open market talent pool is perhaps a function of how players outside the organization view Philadelphia’s chances to compete in 2022. And, of course, a team’s chances to compete are inextricably linked to that team’s QB.

While it is unfair to exclusively blame incumbent signal-caller Jalen Hurts for the Eagles’ inability to make more FA or trade acquisitions thus far in 2022, McLane confirms that the Eagles were interested in Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson, and he believes that Roseman will continue to do everything he can to find an upgrade over Hurts.

That could mean using one of his three first-round picks in next month’s draft on a passer, though McLane thinks that Roseman will not do so and will instead trade one of those picks to enhance his draft capital in 2023, when the QB prospects are expected to be better than this year’s crop. And assuming that the Eagles do not draft a quarterback this year, and do not view a trade candidate like Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield as a worthy investment, then Hurts will get another chance to prove his long-term value.

Ravens To Sign Marcus Williams

The Ravens have agreed to terms with Marcus Williams. The standout safety will leave New Orleans and head to Baltimore on a whopping five-year, $70MM deal (Twitter link via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler). NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero adds that the contract includes $37MM in guaranteed money (Twitter link).

Williams, 26 in September, played on the tag last season after attempts to reach a long-term agreement came up short. The Saints still wanted to hammer out a long-term extension this time around, but their cap situation did not cooperate.

Last year, Williams posted a career-high 74 tackles to go along with two interceptions and eight pass breakups. He also made some serious strides in coverage, allowing a sub-50% completion rate for the first time in his career. Williams also added two interceptions, bringing his career tally to 15.

Baltimore was likely to be in the market for a new safety. They were frequently named as a potential suitor for Tyrann Mathieu, among other options who were available. With incumbent DeShon Elliott a pending free agent, it is not surprising the Ravens have made the investment in Williams. The former is a well-respected member of the defense, but injuries have been a constant throughout his four-year career. That, coupled with Williams’ skillset lending itself more naturally to a true free safety role, make this a logical move.

With Williams in place, the Ravens’ secondary still includes All Pro corners in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. At an average of $14MM per season, on the other hand, this deal adds considerably to the finances Baltimore has invested on the back end of its defense. It will also eat up nearly all of the cap space the team had manufactured recently, leaving them just short of the cap ceiling. Still, the deal should help give a boost to the team’s disappointing pass defense from last season.

Saints, Marcus Williams Eyeing Long-Term Deal

With the deadline for teams to apply franchise tags approaching, more and more news is coming out regarding which way teams are leaning with their key free agents. In the case of New Orleans and safety Marcus Williams, a second tag is not likely, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (Twitter link). 

Williams, 25, played on the tag last season after attempts to reach a long-term agreement came up short. As a result, Fowler notes, he “does not expect” to be tagged a second time. Instead, the Saints’ preference would once again be to get a long-term extension done. Williams has started all 76 games he’s played in during his five seasons in New Orleans, including another productive campaign in 2021.

In 16 contests, Williams recorded a career-high 74 tackles, along with two interceptions and eight pass breakups; he also had his best season in terms of coverage statistics, allowing a completion percentage under 50% for the first time. For his career, he has totalled 15 picks and 38 pass deflections, making the former second rounder a key member of the Saints’ secondary. Fowler’s colleague Dan Graziano notes that a second tag would cost $12.73MM in 2022, if the Saints were to ultimately go that route (Twitter link).

In related news, Katherine Terrell of The Athletic tweets that a tag is also not expected for left tackle Terron ArmsteadIf the three time Pro Bowler were to hit the open market, he would be among the most sought-after offensive linemen in free agency. With plenty of work done just to get under the cap, then, the Saints face a tough road to keep two key pieces of their team under contract for the foreseeable future.

NFC North Notes: Lions, Flowers, Hunter

The Lions, who own the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, are open to trading that selection. If GM Brad Holmes elects to keep it, however, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press does not expect Holmes to pick Liberty QB Malik Willis. Though Detroit worked closely with Willis at the Senior Bowl, and though the big-armed passer performed well at that event, the consensus still seems to be that he is not worthy of the No. 2 pick.

Theoretically, trading down from the top of the draft board could make it more likely that the Lions select Willis or a different quarterback with their first pick, but Birkett does not believe the club will draft a signal-caller with any of its first three selections (presently No. 2, No. 32, and No. 34 overall). If Detroit stays at No. 2, Birkett expects a pass rusher — either Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson or Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux — to be the choice.

Let’s round up a few more NFC North notes and rumors:

  • Birkett does expect the Lions to be more active in free agency this offseason than they were last year, and he cites wide receiver and safety as the two likeliest positions to be upgraded with a notable signing. Both he and Chris Burke of The Athletic (subscription required) believe edge defender Trey Flowers looms as a potential cap casualty — Flowers’ release would add $10.5MM to the Lions’ books if he is cut prior to June 1, and $16MM if he is designated a post-June 1 cut.
  • Even without removing Flowers from the roster, Holmes has roughly $25MM of cap space to work with. Because of his position (safety) and connection to the Lions‘ coaching staff, Birkett names the Saints’ Marcus Williams as a potential FA target for Holmes.
  • Vikings standout Danielle Hunter will line up both at DE and OLB in new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell‘s scheme, per Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune (via Twitter). Hunter has played in just seven games over the past two years, and between that lack of availability and his lofty 2022 cap charge of $26.1MM, Arif Hasan of The Athletic (subscription required) identifies him as a release candidate. Hasan, though, says such as a move is unlikely, and given how well Hunter performed in 2021 before succumbing to a torn pec — six sacks, six tackles for loss, and 10 QB hits in his seven games — it appears the LSU product will stay in Minnesota and will get a chance to show off his versatility.
  • The Bears have hired Matt Feinstein as their new director of football administration, per a team announcement. As Alex Shapiro of NBC Sports Chicago details, Feinstein worked in the league office for seven years, and he will replace Joey Laine, who served as former GM Ryan Pace‘s director of football administration and who was Pace’s lead contract negotiator and salary cap manager.

No Deal For Saints, Marcus Williams

Earlier today, the Panthers and tackle Taylor Moton beat the buzzer. The same can’t be said for their divisional rivals. The Saints and Marcus Williams are not expected to hash out an extension before this afternoon’s franchise-tender deadline (Twitter link via’s Ian Rapoport).

With that, Williams is set to play on his one-year, $10.612MM tender for 2021. As of this writing, everyone else (besides Moton) is in a similar boat. That means one-year pacts for Jets safety Marcus Maye, Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson, Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin, Jaguars offensive tackle Cam Robinson, and Washington guard Brandon Scherff.

It’s not for a lack of trying — Saints GM Mickey Loomis wants to keep Williams for the long haul. However, New Orleans is already projected to be over the 2022 cap of ~$208MM, and they also have other players to consider, like cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Lattimore may also be the higher priority, given that he plays a premium position and has three Pro Bowls under his belt. On the other hand, his March arrest could complicate matters.

The recent Ryan Ramczyk extension cleared roughly $5.5MM off the books for 2021, so the Saints didn’t necessarily have to smooth out Williams’ cap hit. Also, Lattimore’s fifth-year option for this season was already restructured, allowing for more breathing room.

Even though it’s tabled for now, the Saints will surely revisit Williams’ contract down the road. Williams, a 2017 third-rounder, picked off three passes and racked up seven passes defended in 14 games last year. All in all, he’s got 246 tackles, 13 interceptions, and one pick-six to his credit. That’s not even counting his work in the playoffs — 38 tackles and an INT in seven postseason contests.