His ship will come in
Okay, so let’s be clear here. Darious Williams deserves to be well paid. But because he is still young and within the terms of his first NFL contract, he was a restricted free agent. What that means is that the LA Rams had the team option to extend his play one more year by submitted a proposed contract with a prescribed amount. The amount of the contract guaranteed specific protections for the Rams.
Because the Rams submitted the contract with the highest guarantees, they obligated themselves to Williams for nearly twice the contracted price of the minimal amount required. But by doing so, they assured themselves of the right-of-first-refusal (the ability to match any offer made to Darious Williams and re-sign him). Even if the Rams did not match offers, the new team would have been required to forfeit a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to the LA Rams as compensation. No team poached Williams, so the LA Rams have him for one more season.
In the meantime, the LA Rams drafted rookie Robert Rochell to develop this year in a just-in-case scenario. But if Darious Williams has another excellent season, what are the Rams looking at in terms of fair market value? Well, the financial analysts of Over The Cap estimate his fair market value at just over $11 million per year. Similar estimates at Spotrac estimate his fair market value at just over $15 million per year.
While the Rams may be able to squeeze into the lower number, that higher number is likely very much out of their price range. Historically, the LA Rams do not exert much effort to re-sign a player who projects to be among the more highly compensated free agents to hit the NFL market. At his currently projected contract price, Williams could place the team into consideration for either a third-round or fourth-round awarded 2023 compensatory draft pick.
Ideally, Darious Williams is worth more in the LA Rams defense than starting over from scratch in a new defensive scheme. But his ship will definitely come into port in 2022, and the price will set some team back a pretty penny. I’m not confident that the LA Rams can reach that asking price. Much like punter Corey Bojorquez, Williams has an opportunity to showcase his worth to the entire NFL this season.
This could be a very big season for Williams in the Rams’ secondary. If it is, 2022 will include a hefty pay raise