By Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens may want more cap space, but parting with Brandon Williams would be an unwise approach. The Ravens have already restructured the deal with Williams and the reason they’re so invested in him is his importance to the defense.
Cutting Williams for cap space has been a conversation that’s been going lately. It’s a conversation it seems we’ll always have to go through once in a while. This time it was sparked by Patrick Wilson of CBS Sports. Wilson wrote an article about veteran players who could be on the chopping block. Since then Ebony Bird (my old stomping ground) and Kevin Oestreicher of USA Today’s Ravens Wire have written about it. It seems like it’s time for my two cents on the subject.
The Baltimore Ravens defensive line needs Brandon Williams
Cutting Williams would be solving one problem by creating another. If it allowed the Ravens the flexibility to sign Justin Houston, the temptation is at least understandable. That would leave the Ravens thinner on the defensive line. It’s already one of the Ravens’ most questionable areas of the depth chart.
Behind Brandon Williams, Calais Campbell, and Derek Wolfe, the Ravens defensive line is mostly an area of question. Justin Madubuike is an exciting young player, though this is just year two for him. Justin Ellis is okay. Who else is there to get excited about? Aaron Crawford? Meh.
One of the biggest concerns for the Ravens is how their starters will hold up on the defensive line. Williams and Campbell had patches of injury problems last season. Baltimore needs their starters to do the heavy lifting and have Madubuike come on strong. That’s not a want. That’s something the Ravens need if it’s going to work in 2021.
Even if cutting Williams would allow the Baltimore Ravens to sign Justin Houston, this would be fixing a problem and causing another. Williams is an essential part of the Ravens’ run defense. What happens when Williams is hurt? What happens when he isn’t there to stop the run? Exactly.
The Baltimore Ravens play in the AFC North. That means they have to deal with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt twice per season. Nick Chubb is one of the best running backs in the NFL. He’s a back who is basically guaranteed 1,000 yards rushing if he’s healthy. Chubb is a back that averages over five yards per rushing attempt. If the AFC North crown is going to be fought for between the Ravens and the Browns, Baltimore doesn’t want to let go of Williams.
Brandon Williams is one of the best space eaters. He clogs up rushing lanes and is hard to move out of the way. The Ravens have quick and athletic linebackers, they need Williams to do his job in front of them. Williams makes everybody better around him. He’s the central piece, in the middle of the defense. If the Ravens lose Williams, the Ravens will give up 40-50 more yards on the ground a game. It would be very noticeable.
Williams often forces the running back to bounce outside. This allows the linebackers to flow to the football and make the tackle before the back sees too much daylight.
The Bottom Line:
The bottom line is that Williams is too essential to what the Ravens want to do on defense, to even consider letting him go. The Raven needs more pass rush, and that’s not something Williams typically provides. That’s also not what he’s getting paid for. He’s getting paid to be the anchor of the Ravens’ defense and to make running up the gut an impossibility.
Williams is never going to be one of the flashiest Ravens. Fine. If the Ravens parted with him though, it would be a mistake.