Saints “Play It Safe” With Signing DT Kevin Williams


In an on the surface head scratching move the New Orleans Saints have signed free agent defensive tackle Kevin Williams on Friday afternoon.

I say head scratching because Williams visited the Saints close to a month ago and the waters have been still since then especially when it came to his market.

Williams also had hoped a return to his previous team the Seattle Seahawks was an option but apparently that dried up as well.

In an observation made by ESPN’s Mike Triplett, the signing begins to make more sense considering that there are injuries on the defensive line mixed with several players missing “all or part of OTA’s”.

Dec 1, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams (93) looks on prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Williams, at 6’5″ and 311 lbs., has had an impressive  career since being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings ninth overall in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft and appearing in six Pro Bowls.

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He has played in 187 games with 495 tackles, 68 passes defended, eight forced fumbles, 13 fumble recoveries, five interceptions, and 63 sacks.

But as I noted in a previous article, Williams play has been on the decline since 2011 where he was ranked as the 9th best defensive tackle overall according to Pro Football Focus.

The Seahawks signed Williams last year to help beef their defensive line up after they released defensive lineman Red Bryant during the offseason.

But Williams would only go on to start in eight games for the Seahawks where he registered 29 tackles and three sacks.

After being ranked 9th overall as a defensive tackle in 2011, Williams would fall to 139th overall in 2014.

While Williams best years may be behind him, the Saints adding him to the roster is a wise move especially with the injuries coupled with depth.

Dec 28, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Kevin Williams (94) sacks St. Louis Rams quarterback Shaun Hill (14) during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Depending on what scheme defensive coordinator Rob Ryan wants to run, he can be used at either defensive tackle or the nose position.

Williams experience also will help considering that the Saints currently have five rookies along the line and he could be a valuable teacher.

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So it seems this is a very safe move by the Saints in an attempt to make sure they don’t wait until it’s too late to fix a problem like what occurred at cornerback last season.

Brodrick Bunkley and John Jenkins both dealt with injuries this past season and Bunkley’s presence was definitely missed.

PFF had the Saints ranked as 24th against the run last year with Bunkley, Hicks and Tyrunn Walker being the few positives on run defense.

Surprisingly the Saints chose not to retain Walker who had 19 tackles, a forced fumble, and 2.5 sacks last year and was quickly signed by the Detroit Lions this offseason.

Oct 30, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Tyrunn Walker (75) reacts after the Saints recover a fumble by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (not pictured) in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

WWL 870 AM’s NFL/Draft analyst Mike Detillier summed up best where Williams is at and also why the Saints signed him with this post on Twitter:

While he may be “mere mortal” now, the Saints likely knew they aren’t getting Superman anymore but someone who knows his job and what must be done.

To make room for Williams the team released undrafted free agent tight end Harold Spears out of New Hampshire.

Next: The 3 Reasons Why The Saints Will SHOCK The NFL in 2015