Wil­liams back on fa­mil­iar cor­ner

Packer Plus - - News - Tom Sil­ver­stein Mil­wau­kee Jour­nal Sen­tinel

— Tra­mon Wil­liams is of­fi­cially a mem­ber of the Green Bay Pack­ers again.

The team an­nounced March 23 that the 35-year-old cor­ner­back signed a free-agent con­tract that will re­unite him with many team­mates and coaches who were here dur­ing his eight sea­sons with the Pack­ers.

Wil­liams re­ceived a two-year, $10 mil­lion con­tract that in­cludes a $3.25 mil­lion sign­ing bonus. Ac­cord­ing to a source with ac­cess to NFLPA salary data, Wil­liams’ salary-cap num­ber for 2018 is $3.6 mil­lion. It ranks 15th on the team and sixth among de­fen­sive play­ers. Only lineback­ers Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, de­fen­sive line­men Mike Daniels and Muham­mad Wilk­er­son and safety Ha Ha Clin­ton-Dix have higher cap num­bers this year.

The Pack­ers had $16.98 mil­lion in salary-cap room af­ter sign­ing Wil­liams. They will need about $3 mil­lion to $4 mil­lion to fit their 12 draft picks in un­der the team cap, which only counts the team’s top 51 cap num­bers.

The Pack­ers were in need of vet­eran cor­ner­back help in the worst way and turned to Wil­liams to fill the void. He re­turns to the Pack­ers af­ter spend­ing the last three sea­sons with the Cleve­land Browns (2015-’16) and Ari­zona Car­di­nals (2017).

Wil­liams started 9 of 13 games for the Car­di­nals and fin­ished with two in­ter­cep­tions and 13 pass breakups. In Cleve­land, he played un­der head coach Mike Pet­tine, who is now the Pack­ers’ de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

The Pack­ers have one of the youngest cor­ner­back corps in the league with sec­ond-round pick Kevin King and un­drafted free agents Josh Hawkins, Lenzy Pip­kins, Donatello Brown and Herb Wa­ters mak­ing up the bulk of their re­turnees. Quin­ten Rollins is en­ter­ing his third year but is com­ing off an Achilles’ tear and might not be ready un­til mid-sea­son.

Vet­eran Davon House re­mains on the free agent mar­ket.

The Pack­ers are ex­pected to fur­ther ad­dress the cor­ner po­si­tion in the draft. Wil­liams is a high-char­ac­ter per­son who had a good in­flu­ence on younger play­ers dur­ing his later years with the Pack­ers.

The Pack­ers did try to ad­dress the cor­ner­back po­si­tion early in free agency, sub­mit­ting a four-year, $56 mil­lion of­fer sheet that in­cluded an $18 mil­lion sign­ing bonus to Chicago’s Kyle Fuller.

Since the Bears had put a tran­si­tion tag on Fuller, they had the right to match the of­fer, and did sev­eral hours af­ter the deal was signed.

Ac­cord­ing to a source with ac­cess to the con­tract, the deal called for a salarycap num­ber of $6.5 mil­lion in 2018, a very palat­able num­ber for the Pack­ers, who are about $20 mil­lion un­der the salary cap. The num­ber was also easy for the Bears to di­gest.

Fuller’s first-year earn­ings were $20 mil­lion.

His salary-cap num­bers af­ter this sea­son were $13.5 mil­lion in ’19, $17.5 mil­lion in ’20 and $18.5 mil­lion in ’21.

Wil­liams was an in­te­gral part of the Pack­ers’ de­fense start­ing in 2008. He was signed to the prac­tice squad in 2006 af­ter the Hous­ton Tex­ans, who had signed him as an un­drafted rookie out of Louisiana Tech, cut him.

Af­ter a year of play­ing mostly spe­cial teams, Wil­liams earned a spot in the nickel along­side Charles Wood­son and Al Har­ris in ‘08 and took over Har­ris’ start­ing po­si­tion in ‘09 af­ter Har­ris in­jured his knee. Wil­liams blos­somed at the end of 2010, com­ing up with three in­ter­cep­tions on the Pack­ers’ post­sea- son run to a Su­per Bowl XLV cham­pi­onship.

From 2010-’14, Wil­liams started ev­ery reg­u­lar-sea­son game ex­cept one. He to­taled 18 in­ter­cep­tions dur­ing that span and fin­ished his Pack­ers ca­reer with 32, in­clud­ing play­offs.

In the NFC Cham­pi­onship Game dur­ing the 2014 sea­son, Wil­liams gave up the game-win­ning touch­down in over­time against the Seat­tle Sea­hawks. The Pack­ers did not make a huge ef­fort to re­sign Wil­liams, who be­came a free agent in the off-sea­son and he wound up sign­ing a three-year, $21 mil­lion deal with the Browns.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Cor­ner­back Tra­mon Wil­liams intercepts a pass in­tended for Ti­tans wide re­ceiver Eric Decker dur­ing a game last sea­son. Wil­liams re­cently signed a two-year deal to re­turn to the Pack­ers.

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