The Los Angeles Rams think highly of young star cornerback Darious Williams, so much so that they placed a first-round restricted free agent tender on him, which he signed on Wednesday.
Up until next week, on the day before the 2021 NFL Draft, a team will have the chance to sign Williams to an offer sheet. If the Rams aren’t able to match that amount, they’d receive a first-round pick in return.
If the rules are being read right by this author, teams with multiple first-rounders would have to give up their higher pick. That rules out the teams nearer the top of the draft, particularly those who need quarterbacks.
Williams is the type of standout player at a valuable position who a team could overpay for and really put Los Angeles in a bind. The 27-year-old finished fourth among qualifying corners in Pro Football Focus’ player grades from 2020.
Here are three potential suitors for Williams who could outbid the Rams for his services in 2021 and beyond.
3 teams who should try to steal Darious Williams from Rams
Green Bay Packers
There’s this strange impasse between the Packers and reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers. A stubborn unwillingness to agree to a reworked contract is only stirring speculation that this could be Rodgers’ final year in Green Bay.
What if the Packers actually got smart about this, though? They sit Rodgers down, explain to him their plan to acquire Williams, and then the QB agrees to a restructured contract.
It doesn’t seem that hard. The move would open up the cap space necessary for Green Bay to come way over the top of whatever LA can afford. Plus, remember the NFC championship Game? You can bet the Packers better be in the market for a superior No. 2 cornerback opposite Jaire Alexander.
Instead of counting on a rookie to be an upgrade over Kevin King, why not Williams? It seems well worth the 29th overall pick in the draft.
A monster Josh Allen contract extension is eventually coming through the pipeline, but that can still wait. Plus, if Allen wants to keep pace with Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City, he’ll likely follow the Chiefs superstar’s lead with a team-friendly deal at least to start, so that the Bills can keep most of their nucleus intact.
Looking ahead to 2022 free agency, there aren’t a ton of key players Buffalo needs to worry about. With the 30th pick in this year’s draft, it’s also hard to expect to find any rookie at that stage who could make the impact Williams can in the Bills’ secondary.
Yes, the back end of Buffalo’s defense is already strong with the safety duo of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, not to mention Tre’Davious White at outside cornerback. The rest of the depth chart behind White is a little murky, though, so Williams could definitely be the No. 2 opposite White, much like he’s been opposite Jalen Ramsey with the Rams.
With 2021 probably being quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s final season, the hunt for a successor is a bigger priority than years past. However, the Steelers aren’t picking till 24th in the draft, so it’s unrealistic to expect Big Ben’s heir apparent to fall all the way to there.
Instead of reaching for a QB at the end of Round 1, Pittsburgh could fortify the future of its defense by acquiring Williams and find someone like Kellen Mond or Kyle Trask in Round 2. The team has definitely been linked to the latter prospect.
Cap space has been a burden for the Steelers of late, yet in 2022, they’re projected to have more than $100 million as their current roster stands, per Over the Cap. They could offer him a two-year, backloaded contract worth a lot more than Los Angeles would be able to afford next season.
Joe Haden is nearing the end of his prime, if not the close to his career, and Pittsburgh already bade adieu to Steven Nelson this offseason. There’s a need at cornerback, and Williams could fill that for the Steelers in a big way.