Williams back on familiar corner
— 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.
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.