New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis continues to spend the offseason searching for creative instances to help his Saints become cap-compliant ahead of the new league year, which will mark its merciless arrival next week. On Friday, the Saints restructured the contract of superstar running back Alvin Kamara in a shrewd move that created an additional $8.3 million in cap space for a franchise that was recently $76 million above the cap. The Saints remain well above the salary cap despite Kamara’s restructure, and the franchise appears primed to bid farewell to several high-level unrestricted free agents as a result.
Versatile safety Marcus Williams is one of those players (elite blindside protector Terron Armstead is another). A do-it-all safety that excels at all levels of the field in coverage, various squads would benefit from adding Williams’ ball-hawking abilities to their secondary. The former Utah standout has been a consistent five-year performer for the Saints while recording a staggering 15 interceptions and 38 passes deflected. With Jessie Bates III agreeing to the franchise tag in Cincinnati, Williams projects to be the most popular safety target on the open market next week.
Several teams will have an interest in signing Williams in free agency. We’ve identified three potential fits.
The Lions are expected to possess an abundance of interest in securing Williams’ services and it’s easy to understand why on the surface. Lions general manager Brad Holmes is essentially working with a blank slate this offseason after the struggling and rebuilding Lions crawled to three victories. Holmes continues to create additional financial freedom for an in-development Lions franchise that is steadfastly chasing improvement. Veteran defensive end Trey Flowers was released on Thursday in a no-brainer decision that creates north of $10 million in cap space. The Lions should enter the signing period with more than $30 million in available money, and Holmes will target some upgrades.
Williams is the type of back-end talent that can transcend Detroit’s defensive backfield, and the connections between the two parties are endless. Lions head coach Dan Campbell spent five seasons on New Orleans’ staff prior to taking the Detroit job, four of which crossed paths with Williams. Furthermore, Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn spent those same four seasons as Williams’ defensive backs position coach in New Orleans. Outside of the NOLA, no staff knows Williams better than the one currently residing in Detroit. Holmes should quickly identify Williams as an offseason priority.
The Colts now possess the most cap space in the NFL following this week’s blockbuster trade that sent disappointing quarterback Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders. The Commanders agreed to take on the entirety of Wentz’s bloated contract, which paves the way for Colts general manager Chris Ballard to enter next week’s signing period with more than a whopping $70 million in financial freedom, per Spotrac. It sets the Colts up nicely to make at least one sizable splash in free agency, and Ballard must use his resources wisely in hopes of improving a Colts team that surprisingly missed the postseason in 2021.
Williams is the type of multifaceted talent that Indianapolis’ secondary currently lacks. Safeties Andrew Sendejo and George Odum are unrestricted free agents and neither player enjoyed a particularly successful campaign. Odum especially struggled in pass protection and Ballard should give serious consideration to retooling and improving the safety position. Trevor Lawrence will continue developing at quarterback and the Tennessee Titans should field a better passing offense next season as well. The Colts are almost certainly going to do something really big in free agency. Acquiring the superstar Williams would certainly check that box.
The Commanders must spend the offseason improving a secondary that yielded surprisingly disappointing results all throughout 2021 while allowing an astounding 254.9 passing yards per contest. Only the New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, and Seattle Seahawks fared worse in that category statistically.
The decision to part with multiple immediate and future mid-round draft selections in order to acquire Wentz signals Mayhew’s inpatient intentions to win in the present day. The Commanders aren’t embracing a rebuild, they’re attempting to accelerate the process. Mayhew would likely pounce on an opportunity to select Notre Dame do-it-all safety Kyle Hamilton with the 11th overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, but the chances of Hamilton lasting that long on draft day are slim.
At just 25 years of age, Williams is entering the prime of his already excellent career. If the Commanders want to contend in the NFC East, they must be better suited to deal with Dak Prescott and Dallas’ high-flying passing offense. Williams would be a terrific addition to a talented defense that should perform much better in 2022.