DB Darious Williams signs with Jaguars, LA Rams never in running

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The LA Rams were incredibly impressed with the play of defensive back Darious Williams in 2020. So much so that the front office loaded the best Qualifying Tender Offer to extend him, a Restricted Free Agent, for one more year to return to the defense in 2021.

The Rams 2020 secondary: Made up of All-Pro DB Jalen Ramsey, DB Darious Williams, DB Troy Hill, DB John Johnson III, and rookie DB Jordan Fuller; was nothing short of sensational. That secondary was so good that it helped to carry the defense to the top spot among all NFL team defenses. So it made every bit of sense for the team to extend Williams.

Unfortunately, Williams did not play like himself in 2021.  In fact, if you trend his Pro Football Focus grades, you will not a steady decline. His 2020 regular season grade was an outstanding 80.0. He dropped to a respectable 71.3 in the 2020 postseason. He dropped further to 65.3 in the 2021 regular season. But he plummeted to a pedestrian 52.6 in the 2021 postseason. That is not a trend that defensive coordinators like to see from their starting defensive backs.

Rams Free Agency planned to never be in running for Darious Williams’ return

That trend made the decision for the LA Rams fairly simple for them. The front office spends their limited dollars on players who will improve the team. There was no way to view the declining performance of Williams and walk away thinking: “More money will help him turn everything around.” So the Rams will look elsewhere for secondary play.

That is not the case for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are trying to break the NFL record of depleting their discretionary salary funds in 48 hours. They were more than happy to extend a rather handsome contract to Williams, and he is agreeing to sign on with them.

While William gets paid well, reports indicate that he settled for less money to return to Florida. That may have cost the Rams, as the current projections of his $10 million per year generate an estimated award of a fifth-round compensatory draft pick for 2023. Had he signed for more?  A deal upwards of $10.5 million per year would have elevated the estimation for the compensatory pick to a fourth-rounder.

The Rams will certainly need to promote or find a defensive back who can complement the play of All-Pro DB Jalen Ramsey. At the moment, that role appears to be lining up for second-year defensive back Robert Rochelle, with David Long Jr. resuming his role as a slot cornerback. But things can change rapidly. Stay tuned.

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