The Baltimore Ravens will have many options at wide receiver this offseason, and while he may not be the splashiest signing, free agent Tyrell Williams could be a great fit.
First of all, Williams fits exactly what the Ravens are looking for in a wide receiver. He is 6’4” and uses his height and length to his advantage to make contested catches, as you can see on the following plays:
Call Tyrell Williams Neo because he made this catch in The Matrix. pic.twitter.com/q7HRLj9C8y— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 30, 2018
He is a very effective deep threat. That ability was especially apparent during his tenure with the Chargers. Williams actually led the NFL in deep receiving yards through the first seven weeks of the 2018 season, according to Pro Football Focus. Furthermore, he finished in the top-15 in the league in yards per reception for four consecutive seasons (2016-2019).
Williams certainly does not lack talent. The Raiders signed him to a four-year, $43 million deal prior to the 2019 season, and he had 42 receptions for 651 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games. However, those numbers do not tell the entire story. The Raiders signed Williams a few days after they acquired Antonio Brown from the Steelers. Brown was released before the season started, and Williams became the team’s number one receiver. As a result, he was often matched up against the opposing defense’s top cornerback. Additionally, Williams spent the majority of the season playing through plantar fasciitis. In an interview in early December of 2019 Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said the following on Williams’s injury:
“We’ve had a lot of foot problems around here this year. He’s been dealing with it really since the second week of the season and he missed a few games. He came back and hasn’t really healed. He’s managed it. We try to manage him on the practice field, but give him credit, he’s playing through pain and we thank him for that.”
Gruden further echoed those sentiments a couple of weeks later:
Jon Gruden met with Tyrell Williams for a long time today. "We still think he's an excellent player. I watch him in camp and Week 1 against Denver when he was healthy and he's a talented guy. But it's hard to play when your feet are on fire. His feet were hurting. Bad."— Scott Bair (@BairNBCS) December 30, 2019
Considering the injury, Williams’s production is extremely impressive.
Prior to the 2020 season, Williams suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. With Henry Ruggs III on the roster, the Raiders ultimately elected to release Williams to save money.
The #Raiders plan to release WR Tyrell Williams at the start of the league year next month, per source. Williams missed the entire 2020 season because of a shoulder injury that required surgery, but should be fully healthy in 2-3 weeks. He’s still only 28.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) February 11, 2021
With Williams now fully healthy, the Ravens could get a steal. Williams is 29 years old and not far removed from signing that large contract with the Raiders. The Ravens could sign Williams and still have cap space to sign either an offensive lineman or edge rusher, which are more pressing needs, in my opinion. The offensive line was the biggest problem in the Ravens’ playoff loss to the Bills. Meanwhile, Jaylon Ferguson is the only edge rusher under contract. At wide receiver, the Ravens have Marquise Brown on the outside and could start Devin Duvernay in the slot. Signing Williams and adding another receiver in the draft could be the answer. Williams and Brown would give the Ravens two dangerous deep threats on the outside, while Duvernay and tight end Mark Andrews can work the middle of the field.
Additionally, Williams will not factor into the compensatory pick formula, because he was released, which is a nice bonus.