P.J. Williams

Eagles Acquire DB C.J. Gardner-Johnson From Saints

The Saints are trading one of their top defensive backs to the Eagles. C.J. Gardner-Johnson is heading to Philadelphia, according to Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The teams have since announced the deal.

Gardner-Johnson, who has played both safety and patrolled the slot for the Saints, staged a hold-in effort earlier in camp as he angled for an extension. Talks broke down, and the Saints are bailing on the talented defender.

It did not take too much in the way of compensation for this trade to go down. The Eagles are sending a 2023 fifth-round pick and a 2024 sixth to the Saints for Gardner-Johnson and a 2025 seventh, Pelissero tweets. The 2024 sixth will be the lower of the Eagles’ two selections in that round.

The Eagles actually see Gardner-Johnson as a safety, Pelissero tweets. He will pair with Marcus Epps, who finished a strong training camp, at the position. A report earlier this month indicated the Eagles could acquire a safety, but Gardner-Johnson has largely excelled in the slot prior to this trade.

This will make for an interesting transition for the fourth-year veteran, especially coming in a contract year. Safety, however, as the Jamal Adams, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Derwin James deals have shown, has proven to be a more lucrative position than slot corner.

Tuesday’s deal also marks the third splash trade for the Eagles this offseason; the Saints have now been involved in two of those moves. This trade comes after the move to acquire A.J. Brown and the deal to land a future first-rounder from the Saints. No word about a potential Gardner-Johnson extension has come down. The Eagles could wait here, but Jalen Hurts‘ rookie contract also offers some flexibility. The team also has no notable cash tied to the safety position, having just released Anthony Harris.

While Pro Football Focus has rated Gardner-Johnson outside the top 50 at cornerback in each of the past two years, he carved out a regular role amongst a veteran Saints DB corps. The former fourth-round pick has also become known for his ability to rile up opposition — both opponents and teammates, considering Michael Thomas‘ 2020 team-imposed suspension came after he threw a punch at Gardner-Johnson. It will be interesting to see how he fares in Philly.

The Saints have assembled a deep secondary in recent years, and NOLA.com’s Jeff Duncan tweets rookie Alontae Taylor is one of the players — along with Bradley Roby and former slot P.J. Williams — who have worked inside replacing Gardner-Johnson during camp. The team also already has a big-ticket cornerback deal (Marshon Lattimore) in a secondary that also now includes Tyrann Mathieu‘s $9MM-AAV deal.

Saints To Re-Sign P.J. Williams

P.J. Williams is back. On Saturday, the Saints agreed to a brand-new one-year deal with their veteran defensive back (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). 

[RELATED: Saints To Sign Jaleel Johnson]

Williams has never been a Pro Football Focus darling, but the Saints are fans of his work. This marks his third straight one-year re-up and yet another chance for him to improve his leverage. Last time around, Williams scored a fully guaranteed one-year, $2.3MM deal, up from his $2MM pact in 2020.

The Saints drafted him in the third-round back in 2015, and he’s been with the team ever since. A torn hamstring cost him his entire rookie season, and a serious head injury limited him to only two games in 2016. Fortunately, he’s been able to play in at least 14 games in each of the past five seasons. He’s not a world beater, but he is versatile with extensive experience at both safety and cornerback.

As Williams returns, the Saints will also welcome a new defender in ex-Texans defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/29/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Arizona Cardinals

Houston Texans

  • Signed: WR Jordan Veasy

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Signed: OT Chidi Okeke
  • Waived: OT Calvin Ashley

Tennessee Titans

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: LB Bud Dupree; Dupree remains on Tennessee’s active/PUP list as well

Washington Football Team

Saints To Re-Sign P.J. Williams

The Saints might be in a bad cap spot, but that isn’t stopping them from bringing back a lot of their own guys. New Orleans has reached an agreement to re-sign defensive back P.J. Williams, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets.

The deal is for one year and worth $2.3MM, which is fully guaranteed, Rapoport writes. He signed a similar one-year, $2MM deal last offseason. The Saints drafted him in the third-round back in 2015, and he’s been with the team ever since. A torn hamstring cost him his entire rookie season, and a serious head injury limited him to only two games in 2016.

After playing in just two games through his first two seasons, he’s now played in at least 14 each of the past four seasons. He’s been a part-time starter each year, playing at various spots in the defense. Williams is versatile and has extensive experience at both safety and cornerback.

This past season he started three games and played about 48 percent of the defensive snaps. The Florida State product had 40 tackles, two passes defended, two fumble recoveries, and an interception.

Saints To Re-Sign CB P.J. Williams

The Saints have agreed to re-sign cornerback P.J. Williams, per Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football. It will be a one-year deal for the Florida State product, as Underhill tweets. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds that Williams will earn a fully-guaranteed $2MM (Twitter link).

Though he was once considered a first-round talent, Williams slipped to the third round of the 2015 draft, perhaps due to a DUI arrest shortly before that draft. He was arrested for DUI again in January 2019, which led to a two-game suspension last season. But on the field, Williams has finally found his niche as a slot corner.

He has never been a darling of the advanced metrics, but he has continued to play a critical role in the Saints’ secondary. His work as a nickel back certainly passes the eye test, even if sites like Pro Football Focus don’t love him, and he also brings valuable positional versatility.

As Underhill points out, the Saints have very little boundary CB depth behind Janoris Jenkins and Marshon Lattimore, and while Williams won’t win any awards for his work outside the numbers, he represents a marked improvement over players like Patrick Robinson in that regard. And even though New Orleans certainly hopes Williams won’t need to play a ton of snaps at safety in 2020, he performed very well at that position last year as an injury replacement.

Williams, who is particularly effective as a tackler and against the run, has four interceptions and 24 passes defensed in his career.

Saints CB P.J. Williams Suspended 2 Games

The Saints will have to make an adjustment in their secondary. P.J. Williams will be suspended for the next two New Orleans games for violating the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Working as New Orleans’ primary slot cornerback, Williams has started five games in his fifth season with the franchise. The veteran defender was arrested for DUI in January and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in August. He nonetheless re-signed with the Saints this offseason.

This figures to open the door for Patrick Robinson to get his job back. The Saints signed their former first-round pick to a four-year, $20MM deal in 2018. After he missed most of the 2018 season with an injury, Robinson has played just seven snaps for the 5-1 team.

Williams has graded as the worst of the three Saints primary corners, in the view of Pro Football Focus, which slots him at No. 64 at this position. He has played 314 defensive snaps. The 26-year-old defender, a former third-round Saints pick, has recorded 18 tackles and a sack this season.

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.

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.

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.

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.