Whenever “disaster” strikes our favorite sports teams, we always tend to take a look at the future to see what can be done to “make it better.” Moreover, we look at the particular position where the “disaster” occurred to determine if a viable future option would seem better than what is already in place. Getting rid of the weak link is what we all want to see. When discussing the Eagles defense, one particular position has not only come under scrutiny recently and especially after a terrible loss to San Francisco, but one player in particular – the cornerback position and specifically Cary Williams.
While the Eagles defense continues to have ups and downs, Williams continues to be a consistent liability. The coaches and especially us fans know this, which is why there should be no question as to whether or not he should be on the team at the start of the 2015 season. He should be gone looking for a new team or opening trendy new restaurant somewhere in his home state of Tennessee.
I’d also like to mention right off the bat that the negativity surrounding Williams started last year right after he signed his large contract. If you remember, he missed voluntary OTAs because of dental work, his daughter’s dance recital and home improvements (those sconces and fireplace were critical to him at that moment). After being criticized by fans, he was quoted in USA Today saying, “it’s just funny. I mean, fans, I love y’all, but jeez, give me a break.”
Williams signed a 3-year $17 million contract with the Eagles in 2013 that included a $5 million signing bonus. $5,75 million of the contract is guaranteed. Here in 2014, he’s the 8th highest paid cornerback in the NFL. (His counterpart on the opposite side of the field, Bradley Fletcher, is the 16th highest paid in the league. And let’s not forget that Fletcher is a free agent next year).
It difficult looking at these dollar figures since Williams continues to get burnt by wide receivers in key situations and doesn’t make key plays when it’s most needed. Further, he gets penalized during key moments in games that inevitably give opponents momentum and points on the board. Salary-wise, top paid cornerbacks in the league for the most part perform well, make plays and are disciplined on the field. Sure, some have off weeks, but not like this, not like Williams. As we know all too well, he’s also one of those players who rarely ever keeps his mouth closed (this past week, however, was different after an awful performance against subpar wide receivers – he was silent for once).
When it comes to Williams (and Fletcher) here’s what Mike Sielski, Philly Inquirer columnist, recently wrote: “Among the 103 cornerbacks before Monday who had been on the field for at least 25 percent of their team’s defensive snaps, the scouting and statistical firm Pro Football Focus ranked Williams and Fletcher as the 67th and 69th best, respectively, in the NFL.”
Yeah, that’s not good. In terms of Williams, for what he’s paid, this is unacceptable and these stats should be an indication and impetus for the Eagles front office to move on after this season. That’s why they (and we) need to begin looking at how the Eagles can upgrade at cornerback during free agency or during the 2015 NFL Draft. Upgrading via the draft is always my preference. While it’s very early this season, let’s take a look at who should be on the Eagles radar.
“Top Dollar” Free Agents in 2015:
Tramon Williams, 31 – Green Bay
Ike Taylor, 34 – Pittsburgh
Darrelle Revis, 29 – New England
Antonio Cromartie, 30 – Arizona
Kareem Jackson, 26 – Houston
Bradley Fletcher, 28 – Philadelphia
Tarell Brown, 29 – Oakland
Brandon Flowers, 28 – San Diego
Charles Tillman, 33 – Chicago
Darius Butler, 28 – Indianapolis
Late 20’s and early- to mid-30’s for any of these players seems a stretch to me. Yes, many of these players put Cary Williams to shame. In reality, how many years do they really have left? Do I think the Birds may pick up a cornerback in free agency? It’s a good bet, but I wouldn’t think a “top dollar” seeking player like those above will be signed to this position.
That’s why we should look at the future via the NFL Draft. Again, it’s early and college players face many challenges – the schedule, injuries, playing another year if they’re an underclassman, etc. If we take a look at the college cornerback position today, these players are currently at the top. Keep them in the back of your mind as you’re watching the college football season.
College Cornerbacks To Potentially Draft:
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – Oregon, Sr.
P.J. Williams – Florida State, Jr.
Josh Shaw – USC, rSr.
Trae Waynes – Michigan State, rJr.
Marcus Peters – Washington, rJr.
Ronald Darby – Florida State, Jr.
Charles Gaines – Louisville, rJr.
Doran Grant – Ohio State, Sr.
Lorenzo Doss – Tulane, Jr.
Kevin Johnson – Wake Forrest, rSr.
It remains to be seen if Jaylen Watkins, a rookie going through his NFL freshman year, will and can materialize into a solid corner. 2013 seventh-round pick Jordan Poyer didn’t pan out. So there’s a need to get young and fast at this position. Williams is neither and, again, a liability. It’ll be time for the Eagles to move on from Williams after this season because there will be other viable options. Re-signing him would be a mistake. Let’s begin to look to the future.