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Free saftey is not P.J. Williams’s strong suit

Williams’s first year at the new position yielded less-than-stellar results

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

P.J. Williams’s career as a New Orleans Saint has been a bit of a mixed bag ever since he arrived from Florida State in 2015. Having spent the majority of his career playing as a slot cornerback, Williams’s production slowly started to decline year after year, most evident over the 2018-19 seasons, where Williams gave up a combined 113 catches for 1421 yards and 15 touchdowns over the course of the two seasons. With Chauncey C.J. Ceedy Duce Gardner-Johnson taking over the role as the Saints’ primary slot corner in 2020 (685 snaps at SCB led the team), that left Williams to serve in more of a depth role for this past season.

The results were...not great. Williams posted a 40.5 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, his worst of his career and ranked 98th among all safeties that played at least 20% of snaps in 2020. That mark is good for second-to-last in the entire NFL, only ahead of Johnathan Abram, a second-year player from the Las Vegas Raiders that played twice the snaps of Williams.

Williams conceded 384 receiving yards in coverage as well, by far the most out of any safety that played less than 500 snaps (Seattle’s Ryan Neal finished second in this dubious categoy with 292). Simply put, Williams was not good for the Saints. He did manage one interception this season, which was in the 4th quarter of the Saints’ Week 17 blowout against the Carolina Panthers when the Saints were already up by 26 and the Panthers had sat Teddy Bridgewater.

P.J. Williams is not under contract for the Saints in 2021, which might be for the best. Williams hasn’t shown much in his five years in New Orleans, and a position change to safety showed little promise there as well. The Saints may look to bring Williams back as a familiar face in case they lose current free safety Marcus Williams in free agency, however downgrading from Marcus Williams to P.J. would be like trading in a kobe steak for a whopper. Yes, it’s cheaper, but of horrific quality and will make you feel awful things. The best case scenario for all involved would be for the Saints to move on from P.J. Williams and try their shot at replacing him with a cheap FA option or to look for a mid-round pick in this year’s draft.


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