Remember those old Fram Oil Filter commercials that featured the credo, “Pay me now or pay me later?”
The idea was to spend a little now on your vehicle to avoid costly repairs down the road.
If only free agency in the NFL worked as efficiently…
With $12.25M in cap space at his disposal, many have suggested that Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome lock up promising defensive tackle Brandon Williams with a long-term deal now before he hits the open market in March of 2017.
The idea is fundamentally sound and rooted in the understanding that a deal done today will be less costly than one when other suitors with more cap space can participate and drive up Williams’ asking price.
But how much less costly?
Is there really a discount?
More than likely Williams’ financial advisors are encouraging the former Missouri Southern State Lion to go out and have a great season and then play the market when the league’s new year begins.
Said advisors might suggest something different to Williams if the Ravens are willing to overpay.
And they won’t!
At least they shouldn’t!
This offseason Giants defensive tackle Damon Harrison set the bar for opening round contract talks with Williams and his handlers when he signed a 5-year, $46.25M deal that includes $24M in guarantees. Harrison graded out as the NFL’s 7th ranked interior defender according to Pro Football Focus while Williams came in at No. 21.
In 2015 Harrison had 72 tackles, ½ sack, 1 forced fumble and 8 stuffs according to ESPN. Comparatively speaking Williams’ numbers were 53-2-1-8.
So a minimum of $24M in guarantees to lock up an interior defender, eh?
Sure Williams is stout at the point of attack but for a guy who doesn’t really create turnovers and doesn’t touch the quarterback or the ball, is a Williams extension really a prudent move before free agency?
Why not let that dangling carrot of incentive (free agency) hang out there and harvest the productivity of Williams’ contract year. And if he does deliver and other teams back up their Brinks trucks – let them! The Ravens would receive a handsome compensatory pick as a consolation prize.
Besides, Newsome and his trusty scouting department have always been able to find those big-bodied diamonds in the rough in Day 3 of the draft. Williams was one (Round 3) as was Arthur Jones (Round 5). And let’s not forget that they have Tim Jernigan who can go inside and out across the defensive front, promising second-year player Carl Davis and a highly regard rookie (Round 4) in former Michigan Wolverine Willie Henry.
Might any of those guys become the next Williams?
At times it makes sense to get extensions done with players before the threat of free agency becomes a reality, particularly at positions that affect the passing game. That’s not the case with Williams.
Moreover, teams need to manage the cap in a way in which they realize value and value arrives when players play to and beyond the level of their contracts.
When you consider who the Ravens have on deck if Williams follows the Benjamins out of town, plus their organizational ability to find and develop interior defenders like the Atlanta Braves once developed pitchers, the more prudent thing to do with the behemoth tackle is sit back, reap the benefits of a very motivated player and make a more informed decision in 2017.
Don’t pay him now.
Pay him later, if you want to.