Tramon Williams

Ravens Sign CB Tramon Williams

Tramon Williams‘ Ravens visit last week will produce a deal, and the timing of the parties’ initial meeting will allow for the veteran cornerback to be in uniform Sunday night.

The longtime Packers defender signed with the Ravens on Tuesday. Williams visited the team six days ago and began taking COVID-19 tests, according to The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec (on Twitter). That will put him on track not only to be in uniform against the Patriots on Sunday but to begin practicing with his new team when the Ravens begin their Pats preparations Wednesday.

This will be Williams’ 14th NFL season. He spent 10 prior campaigns in Green Bay, working as a key Packer defender from 2007-14 and over the past two seasons — after stays in Cleveland and Arizona. Williams, 37, has started 153 career games — including 23 in his second Packers stint — and will reclaim his place as the league’s oldest active cornerback.

Baltimore remains without All-Pro Marlon Humphrey, who tested positive for the coronavirus. This affected the Ravens’ practices last week, with several defenders missing most or all of those workouts. The Ravens are planning ahead this week.

To make room on their 53-man roster, the Ravens placed cornerback Khalil Dorsey on IR.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens To Work Out Tramon Williams

The Ravens are set to work out longtime Packers cornerback Tramon Williams, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. If signed, Williams would help provide depth for a group that has lost star cornerback Marlon Humphrey and others to the COVID-19 list.

[RELATED: Ravens Place Humphrey On COVID-19 List]

Even at the age of 37, Williams believes that he can still contribute to a contender. He was briefly on the fence about playing amidst the first coronavirus wave, but he’s now intent on returning to the field.

After spending nearly a decade with the Packers to start his career, Williams circled back in 2018. He’s appeared in all 32 regular season games over the past two seasons, including a 2019 campaign where he had eight passes defended and a pair of interceptions.

Most notably, Williams was a crucial part of the Packers’ Super Bowl victory in the 2010 season. He had three interceptions during that playoff run and came up with a critical stop late in the championship game to seal the win for Green Bay.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Tramon Williams: “90% Chance” I’ll Play

Tramon Williams is 37 years old and without a team, but he still plans on playing in 2020 (Twitter link via Jason Wilde of ESPN Radio). The veteran cornerback estimates a “90% chance” of playing in 2020, whether it’s with the Packers or another club. 

[RELATED: Packers’ Devin Funchess To Opt Out]

Like many NFL players, Williams has concerns about health issues and the league’s ability to protect players from coronavirus infection. Still, he’s leaning towards playing if he gets the opportunity. During the interview, Williams indicated that he received interest and opportunities earlier in the year. It’s not clear whether he’s on the verge of a deal as camp gets underway, however.

Before the draft, Packers GM Brian Gutekunst said that Williams was still on his radar. The Packers passed on taking a CB in April, so it stands to reason that Williams could still be a fit in Green Bay.

After spending nearly a decade with the Packers to start his career, Williams circled back in 2018. He’s appeared in all 32 regular season games over the past two seasons, including a 2019 campaign where he had eight passes defended and a pair of interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Notes: Draft, Williams, Funchess

While this year’s virtual draft will naturally lead to some challenges, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst still expects to be active in trade talks throughout the weekend.

“I don’t think there’s going to be too much of an issue, certainly not from our end,” Gutekunst said (via Curtis Crabtree of ProFootballTalk.com).

“I think we’ll be able to be as aggressive as we need to be. I like to move around. I think it’s a very good draft. I’d like to move around and get to the areas of the draft I think are strong.”

Gutekunst also mentioned that the team would consider moving up in the first round “if we need to.” The Packers highest pick is currently No. 30, which is one of the organization’s 10 selections.

The Packers have been connected to a number of first-round-caliber prospects, including defensive tackle Raekwon Davis. While they’ve been mentioned as a suitor for quarterbacks like Jordan Love, the team isn’t prioritizing the position in the upcoming draft.

Let’s check out some more notes out of Green Bay…

  • Tramon Williams remains a free agent, but it doesn’t sound like the Packers are in any rush to re-sign the veteran cornerback. Gutekunst told reporters that they’ll evaluate Williams’ fit on the roster after the draft. “If that fits once we get through the draft then we’ll certainly make it happen if we can,” Gutekunst said (via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky on Twitter). After spending nearly a decade with the Packers to start his career, Williams returned to Green Bay in 2018. He’s appeared in all 32 regular season games over the past two seasons, including a 2019 campaign where he had eight passes defended and a pair of interceptions.
  • Wide receiver Devin Funchess still hasn’t “completely” passed his physical, Gutekunst told reporters (via Demovsky). “There’s still a portion of it that he’ll have to kind of get through once hopefully this clears up or we’re able find another way to do it,” Gutekunst said. The Packers have already announced the deal, which is a one-year pact worth as much as $6.25MM. After hauling in 63 receptions for 840 yards and eight scores in 2017, the 25-year-old has only collected 54 receptions for 844 yards and nine touchdowns over the past two years (31 games).
  • Gutekunst isn’t particularly worried about any of the technical glitches during the league’s mock draft. “We got a lot of answers,” Gutekunst said (via the team’s website). “That was the big thing, getting through this and finding out the answers how we really want to do this.”

NFC Notes: Ward, Giants, Bucs, Rollins

Jimmie Ward‘s interesting career with the 49ers looks set for another turn. The fifth-year player’s been shuttled to different positions in each of his four years, with four coaching staffs annually shifting him between safety and cornerback. This year, it doesn’t look like Ward will have a surefire path to remain a starter. Having started 24 games for the past three seasons at either corner or safety, Ward now is set to be a super-sub in Robert Saleh‘s secondary. Second-year safety Adrian Colbert usurped Ward, and once Richard Sherman is ready to play, he’ll take Ward’s place at cornerback alongside Ahkello Witherspoon, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle notes. He may not be in line to start in the slot, either, with K’Waun Williams back.

It’s not going to be easy for (Ward) to start at any of those five (positons),” Kyle Shanahan said, via Branch, of the 2014 first-rounder who’s set to make $8.52MM this season. “Right now, he’s trying to do it at corner. We’ll reassess this at the end of OTAs and see how it is in training camp. … If Jimmie doesn’t earn a starting role, there’s also a good chance he’s the first backup at every single position: strong safety, free safety, nickel (corner), (outside) corner, because he’s capable of being a starter at all of those positions.”

Here’s the latest from some NFC franchises, continuing with the latest on a player who has a better path to a starting lineup.

  • Will Hernandez‘s starting spot will likely come at the expense of John Jerry, per Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com. The second-round pick is expected to make a strong push to move into the Giants‘ lineup, and with Big Blue signing Patrick Omameh earlier this offseason, Jerry may be the odd man out. The team could be keeping the veteran around as insurance, but it would cost the Giants more to cut him than it would yield in cap savings. Jerry’s the longest-tenured Giants offensive line starter, doing so since 2014. Both he and Omameh graded as top-40 guards last season, in the view of Pro Football Focus.
  • The BuccaneersUDFA contingent houses some players who received hefty guarantees to sign. Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen received $50K guaranteed to sign, in the form of a $15K signing bonus and a $35K base salary guarantee, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Temple tackle Cole Boozer received $45K to sign ($20K signing bonus, $25K base guarantee) and running back Shaun Wilson (Duke) collected a $10K signing bonus and saw Tampa Bay guarantee $10K of his base salary. Auman adds Western Michigan tight end Donnie Ernsberger received a $15K bonus.
  • Former Packers second-round pick Quinten Rollins is back working with his team on a limited basis during OTAs, Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes. Rollins tore an Achilles’ tendon in October and isn’t a lock for the roster, given both the severity of his injury and the Packers having drafted corners with their first two 2018 picks. Green Bay did deal Damarious Randall to Cleveland, however, opening up one spot. But the team also added former starter Tramon Williams in free agency. Cohen reports some in the Packers’ scouting department believe Rollins should be moved to safety, but it’s unclear whether the coaching staff concurs. Brian Gutekunst has said Rollins will try to work his way back into the cornerback contingent.

Contract Details: Burnett, Bodine, Williams

Let’s take a look at the most recent new contracts around the NFL:

AFC

NFC

Packers To Sign CB Tramon Williams

The Packers have agreed to sign cornerback Tramon Williams, according to former teammate James Jones (on Twitter). Williams, who spent the first eight seasons of his career in Green Bay, returns on a two-year deal. 

Williams was a crucial part of the Packers’ Super Bowl victory in the 2010 season. He had three interceptions during that playoff run and came up with a critical stop late in the championship game to seal the win for Green Bay.

Williams, 35, is coming off of one of the best seasons of his career. The Cardinals long searched for a quality cornerback to pair with star Patrick Peterson and Williams did an admirable job in that role. Pro Football Focus ranked Williams ninth amongst all corners last year and he finished 23rd in Football Outsiders’ success rate and 18th in yards per pass allowed. As a whole, the Cardinals ranked sixth in DVOA against opposing No. 2 wide receivers. They’ll now have to rebuild their secondary after losing Williams and parting ways with Tyrann Mathieu.

The Packers have been eager for an upgrade at cornerback and recently tried to steal restricted free agent Kyle Fuller away from the rival Bears. Fuller would have been a better long-term pickup, but Williams should still be a contributor in the short term.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2018 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. After looking at offense on Monday, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2018:

Edge defender:

  1. Julius Peppers
  2. William Hayes
  3. Trent Murphy
  4. Pernell McPhee
  5. Aaron Lynch
  6. Alex Okafor
  7. Adrian Clayborn
  8. Kony Ealy
  9. Connor Barwin
  10. Jeremiah Attaochu
  11. Junior Galette
  12. Derrick Shelby
  13. Barkevious Mingo
  14. Kareem Martin
  15. Erik Walden

As a positional group, pass rushers comprise interesting market on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not often that a list of best available players is topped by a 38-year-old, but Peppers is the top free agent edge defender after the Cowboys and Lions deployed the franchise tag on Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah, respectively. As with quarterbacks, NFL clubs are extremely reluctant to allow pass rushers to hit the open market, so top-tier options are rarely ever truly “available.” Peppers, for his part, hasn’t even declared whether he’ll return in 2018, but indications are that he’ll suit up for a 17th campaign after posting 11 sacks last year.

Alongside Peppers, other veterans populate the edge market, and while William Hayes may not be a household name, he’ll be a contributor for whichever team signs him. A stout run defender, Hayes is also capable of generating pressure despite managing only one sack in 2017. The Dolphins used Hayes on only 271 defensive snaps a season ago, and have since replaced him by acquiring fellow defensive end Robert Quinn from the Rams. Now that he’s entering his age-33 season, Hayes should come cheap, but will almost assuredly outplay his contract.

Nearly every other available pass rusher has some sort of flaw which will likely limit his market next week. Trent Murphy is only 27 years old and put up nine sacks in 2016, but he missed the entirety of the 2017 campaign with injury. Pernell McPhee, Alex Okafor, Junior Galette, and Derrick Shelby have also been plagued by health questions in recent seasons. And Adrian Clayborn famously registered the majority of his 2017 sacks (and 20% of his career sack total) in one game against overwhelmed Cowboys backup Chaz Green.

The two names that I keep coming back to are Aaron Lynch (49ers) and Jeremiah Attaochu (Chargers). Yes, Lynch has been suspended for substance abuse, struggled with his weight, and was reportedly in danger of being waived prior to last season. He’s also extremely young (he won’t turn 25 years old until Thursday) and ranked fifth in the league with 34 pass pressures as recently as 2015. Attaochu, a 25-year-old former second-round pick, also has youth on his side, and while he hasn’t quite flashed as much as Lynch, he’s also been buried on LA’s depth chart for much of his career.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Sheldon Richardson
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Muhammad Wilkerson
  4. Star Lotulelei
  5. DaQuan Jones
  6. Beau Allen
  7. Denico Autry
  8. Justin Ellis
  9. Tom Johnson
  10. Bennie Logan
  11. Chris Baker
  12. Kyle Williams
  13. Dominique Easley
  14. Haloti Ngata
  15. Jay Bromley

Interior rushers are getting more respect in today’s NFL, but that still hasn’t translated to them being paid on the level of edge defenders — the 2018 franchise tag for defensive tackles, for example, is roughly $3MM cheaper than the tender for edge rushers. While the 2018 crop of interior defenders boasts some impressive top-end talent, none of the available players figure to earn a double-digit annual salary. Sheldon Richardson may have the best chance to do so, but Seattle determined he wasn’t worth a one-year cost of $13.939MM, so is any other club going to pay him $10MM per year? I’d guess he comes in closer to $9MM annually, which would still place him among the 25 highest-paid defensive tackles.

Dontari Poe will be an intriguing free agent case after setting for a one-year deal last offseason, but the most interesting battle among defensive tackles will take place Star Lotulelei and Muhammad Wilkerson, and I’m curious to see which player earns more on the open market. Both are former first-round picks, and it’s difficult to argue Wilkerson hasn’t been the more productive player — or, at least, reached higher highs — than Lotulelei. Wilkerson also won’t affect his next team’s compensatory pick formula given that he was released, but his off-field issues, which include a reported lack of effort and problems with coaches, could limit his appeal.

While Beau Allen and Denico Autry are potentially candidates to be overpaid based on their youth, there are bargains to be had at defensive tackle. Tom Johnson is 33 but he’s offered consistent pressure from the interior for years — his last contract was for three years and $7MM, so he shouldn’t cost much this time around. Haloti Ngata was injured in 2017 but plans to continue his career, and he can still stop the run. And Dominique Easley was outstanding as a 3-4 end in 2016 before missing last season with a torn ACL, meaning the former first-round pick could be a value play for any number of teams.Read more

Cards Want To Re-Sign CB Tramon Williams

The Cardinals aren’t expected to spend at the top of the cornerback market in order to bring in a defender such as Malcolm Butler or Trumaine Johnson, and will instead attempt to re-sign veteran defensive back Tramon Williams while drafting a corner, tweets Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com.Tramon Williams (Vertical)

Arizona has long struggled to find a corner to play opposite Patrick Peterson, but Williams filled that void in 2017, posting arguably the best season of his lengthy career while ranking as the NFL’s No. 9 cornerback, per Pro Football Focus. He also finished 23rd in Football Outsiders’ success rate and 18th in yards per pass allowed, while the Cardinals as a team ranked sixth in DVOA against opposing No. 2 wide receivers.

However, Williams will be 35 years old when the 2018 campaign gets underway, so it’s unclear if he’ll be able to land anything more than the one year, $2MM deal he inked with the Cardinals last summer. Coming off a far less productive campaign, Williams didn’t sign until the end of July in 2017. While he almost certainly won’t have to wait that long to find a new contract this offseason, his age will prevent him from truly cashing in.

If Williams signs elsewhere, Arizona will need to draft a cornerback early or add another free agent defensive back. Williams, Peterson, and Justin Bethel were the only Cardinals corners to play more than 7% of the club’s defensive snaps a season ago, and Bethel is now a free agent, as well. Other Arizona defenders such as Harlan Miller and C.J. Goodwin can’t be counted on to start, while 2016 third-round pick Brandon Williams was asked to play only a single defensive snap in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals Sign CB Tramon Williams

Late Sunday night, the Cardinals added a cornerback to the mix. Tramon Williams has been signed to a one-year deal, per a club announcement. Williams joins the team just hours after cornerback Ronald Zamort suffered a season-ending ACL tear. Tramon Williams (vertical)

[RELATED: Cardnals Sign Philip Wheeler]

Interestingly, Zamort was practicing with the first team last week as Justin Bethel recovered from a minor knee injury, so it seems like the relatively unknown second-year player from Western Michigan leapfrogged Brandon Williams on the depth chart. With that in mind, Bethel and Tramon Williams may be the frontrunners for the right to start opposite of Patrick Peterson.

T. Williams, 34, spent the first nine years of his career with the Packers before joining the Browns last season. He has been remarkably durable over his ten NFL seasons, missing only five games in total. The traditional stats, the advanced stats, and the naked eye test all indicate that he’s not as sharp as he was in his prime with Green Bay, but he could still be a difference maker for a Cardinals team in need of cornerback depth.

The Cardinals also met with cornerback Brandon Flowers in July, but they might not have room for him after adding Williams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.