NFL: Best fits for free agent running back James Williams

NFL: Best fits for free agent running back James Williams

by June 28, 2019 0 comments

The Kansas City Chiefs surprised fans and analysts alike when they released un-drafted rookie running back James Williams.

The most decorated receiving back in the 2019 draft class, Williams appeared a perfect-on-paper fit in Kansas City.

The bright side for the former Washington State tailback was the timing. Chiefs general manager Brett Veach made the move weeks before teams report to training camp. This allows Williams ample time to catch on elsewhere.

The remaining question, however, is what teams present the best fits?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The first team that springs to mind is the Buccaneers. The Bucs are certain to want to get their backfield heavily involved in the passing game with new head coach Bruce Arians now at the helm. During his five-year tenure with the Arizona Cardinals, a running back was targeted at least 50 times in every single season. Former Pro-Bowler David Johnson represents two of those seasons including a stunning 120 targets in 2016. The other three seasons belong to Andre Ellington, who has joined Arians in Tampa after spending 2018 out of football.

Ellington likely represents little more than a comfort veteran for Coach Arians. Much the way Jacquizz Rodgers did for previous Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter. He is dependable and knows the system, but is likely to produce modest results at best barring a return to his 2014 form.

Incumbent starter Peyton Barber flashed some pass-catching ability last season, but is more of a screen and check-down guy than a mismatch creator. 2018 second-round pick Ronald Jones II has received rave reviews from the new coaching staff this offseason but struggled mightily with drops throughout his rookie campaign. The door is wide open for someone to step into the third-down role, giving Williams a great shot at making the final roster if he is indeed signed by the team.

Houston Texans

With Alfred Blue’s departure to Jacksonville, the Houston Texans could be in the market for Williams’ services. While Lamar Miller once again figures to be heavily involved in the passing game, Blue was the Texans’ most reliable pass-protector over his three-year stint with the team.

Thus far, 2017 third-round selection D’Onta Foreman has failed to carve out a role of any significance. Even if Foreman does break out in 2019, it likely won’t be in passing situations. Eight-year veteran Taiwan Jones has joined the mix as a post-draft signing, but is a career special-teamer. Three-year journeyman Josh Ferguson brings some receiving chops to the table but has lingered on practice squads for much of his career. The team is also bringing un-drafted free agents Karon Higdon and Damarea Crocket, but neither were utilized much in the passing game during their collegiate careers.

There is a gaping hole for a satellite back role on this roster. One James Williams could be the perfect fit to fill.

Cleveland Browns

On the surface, the Cleveland Browns appear to have one of the deeper backfields in the National Football league. However, newly acquired Kareem Hunt is set to serve an 8-game suspension in relation to an off-field incident. Duke Johnson has been rumored to be on the trading block for weeks; trade talks that will likely be picking up as teams make final evaluations of their 90-man roster (I’d consider both the Buccaneers and Texans to be interested parties for the reasons listed above).

While returning rookie sensation Nick Chubb and former rookie of the year Kareem Hunt would represent the best one-two punch in the league, it won’t come to fruition until November. Should Johnson, in fact, be moved, the Browns will have a sizeable role to fill in their pass attack for at least the first 8 weeks. The team may not feel comfortable leaving that up to second-year veteran Dontrell Hillard or undrafted rookie D-Ernest Johnson. In the event of a trade, the team will almost certainly bring in another body to compete. That body could well be James Williams.

Ken Grant is a writer for Prime Time Sports Talk. You can follow him @dat_BCB on Twitter.

No Comments so far

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.

Leave a Reply