Stout nose tackle Brandon Williams was the best player on the Baltimore Ravens defense last season. Unfortunately, that was not quite robust enough to earn acknowledgement on PFF’s Top 101 player list. However, the analytical website did include B-Will among the ten players who just missed the cut.
10. Brandon Williams, DL, Baltimore Ravens
The best argument for Williams making the list is that Damon Harrison did, and there really isn’t much between the two players. Both are fantastic run defenders in a league that is pass-happy and neither player brings enough as a pass-rusher to get the credit they deserve. In a way they are square pegs in a round league, but while I think the two players are close, Harrison is the better one in my eyes, and the gap is just enough to see Williams miss out.
These player rankings do not mean much in the grand scheme, football is a team sport after all. Still, the rankings may shed some light on Williams contract value. Believe it or not, 22 NFL teams subscribe to PFF’s grading and analysis.
Rumors circulating the Ravens do not expect to reach a contract extension agreement with Williams this offseason. They understand he hopes to maximize his value by waiting until he becomes an unrestricted free agent next offseason. The next contract Williams signs will likely be the most lucrative of his career, putting generational money in his family's coffers.
It is difficult to fault Williams if he chooses to wait after seeing former teammate Kelechi Osemele cash in with a 5-year $58.5 million deal with more than $25 million guaranteed. Fellow defensive tackle Fletcher Cox agreed to an extension with the Eagles just last week, the terms were 6-years at $102.6 million and more than $63 million guaranteed. The generous annual salary cap percentage increase have made the cost of signing top players in their prime years untenable for many contending teams.
It is doubtful that the Ravens would be able to afford Williams at a contract comparable to Cox’s, but Williams is not quite the caliber of Cox. Cox is PFF’s 28th best player entering the 2016 season. Kawann Short of the Panthers is another defensive tackle who is coming up on free agency, and also ranked much higher than Williams at #38. Damon Harrison is a much better comparison for Williams. Harrison, another wide bodied two-gap run plugger, is PFF’s 100th best player. He signed with the Giants this offseason for 5-years at $46.3 million with $24 million guaranteed.
Let’s hope Williams is willing to play for closer to Harrison’s $9 million per season than Cox’s $17 million annual average salary. The best players realize individual accolades are not nearly as satisfying as team success.