It’s been a week of smiles at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills. While there was plenty to be happy about, those smiles were never bigger than at the moment Ozzie Newsome and company got one particular man to say “yes.”
That man, nose tackle Brandon Williams, met with the media yesterday for the first time since signing his new five-year, $52.5 million, contract that includes $24.5 million in guarantees.
The former Spot-A-Pot mover (in college) turned NFL player is happy to remain in Baltimore after it appeared as if he would be snagged quickly during the free agent frenzy.
“It was a big-time relief,” stated a jovial Williams. “Going into free agency, most of you were there the last day when we had to clean out our lockers. I didn’t [clean out my locker]. Everything is still there, even I think my last suit that I still had in there.
“I wanted to come back. I figured I would kind of try to leave hints and kind of speak it into existence and keep everything there so they know I am going to be there. It was a crazy experience. I was anxious not knowing what was going to happen, not knowing where I am going to be. I was hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.
“I was trying to be strong, kind of go through it, I guess just trying to figure out where I was going to be. It was tough, but in the end, it worked out perfectly, and I am happy for it. I am glad to be with Baltimore.”
Williams’ deal is as hefty as he is, and many fans worry that the organization may have over reached for the run-stuffer. Per Pro Football Focus, Williams recorded 31 defensive “stops” last season, which ranked 12th among his NFL peers at inside DL.
Newsome though, emphasized that his plan to Williams at any cost started soon after being eliminated from postseason contention.
“Well, it started on Brandon in Jupiter, [Florida at the Ravens’ offseason planning meeting],” Newsome said. “We came to a number that we felt like would be fair for Brandon and fair for us. But then, there is always an adjustment that has to happen based on, No. 1, how high the cap went, which went, I think, up 12 million.
“Then, some of the deals that were made in the early part of the day and the early part of the week … So, it was a conversation I think on Thursday, Thursday morning … We had a conference call with Steve – Dick [Cass], John, Eric [DeCosta] and I. We talked it through.
“Before the deal got completely done, I got another call from Steve early Thursday evening basically saying to me, ‘Do what you have to do to get the deal done. So, having an owner like that really helps myself and Pat [Moriarty] to be able to put together a deal that can keep good players on our football team.”
While concerns about giving so much money to a guy who neither touches the ball nor pressures quarterbacks are valid, Williams’ presence on the Ravens’ defensive line has its advantages as well. Williams has a lot to do with setting up those 3rd-and-long situations that all defenses strive for, by clamping down on opposing running games.
Now, can they find the right players to execute those stops on 3rd-and-long? That’s the question.
Secondary and pass rusher are still among the Ravens’ question marks as free agency continues to roll along, and it remains to be seen what the plan is to address them prior to the NFL draft. With little cap space currently remaining, Williams’ new contract will continue to be under scrutiny as that money could have possibly gone a long way to fill other roster needs.
Fans will be eagerly waiting to see what they do next.
As for Williams, he’s ready to get back to work, and glad to do it in the Charm City.
“I told coach Harbaugh this,” Williams stated: “When it got down to it, I kind of just could not see myself in any other color but purple and black.”
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