Why this could be last year for Brandon Williams with Ravens

Brandon Williams has long been a cornerstone part of the Ravens defensive line. Will 2020 be his final season in Baltimore?

Since being drafted by the Ravens in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Brandon Williams has had 255 combined tackles and six and a half sacks.. Although always lacking being an above-average pass rusher, Williams has been a consistently good run stopper. Entering his age 31 season, with regression surely incoming and his high cap hit, will the Ravens attempt trade Williams next season, or possibly cut him?

The Pros:

First, although not being named one of the 12 Ravens Pro Bowlers last year,  Williams had a solid season, finishing with 55 combined tackles and a sack. These numbers may not be the most attractive, but Williams actually had a better season than he had in 2018. This shows that although Williams is in his age-31 season, his imminent regression has not started yet.

Second, after trading for Calais Campbell from the Jaguars and signing Derek Wolfe, who had nine and a half sacks last year, from the Broncos, the Ravens defensive line has the potential to be one of the best in the league. Taking out Williams, a massive part of the line, will without a doubt make the unit worse. Why ruin something that has the potential to be great for years to come?

Lastly, Williams is by far the Raven’s best-run stopper. With key additions Campbell and Wolfe being primarily pass rushers and outside linebacker, Matt Judon, struggling in that department. If taken away from the front seven the Ravens will get run on even harder than they did by Derrick Henry in the Divisional game last year. This is a very scary sight to imagine.

The Cons:

As stated above, although Brandon Williams has shown no signs of regression (yet), all players go through regression one they hit their 30’s. Williams, now 31, will surely hit that mark soon, and there is simply no reason for the Ravens to pay him  $14 million in his age-season, an age where regression is almost certain.

Second, although he is a considerable piece of the Ravens defensive line, Williams’ contract is simply too big to keep him around. With three years and $42 million left on his contract, the Ravens cannot afford to keep him if they want to retain their core of young players. With emerging star cornerback, Marlon Humphrey, eligible for a big extension next season and MVP quarterback, Lamar Jackson, on pace to break the bank in 2021, the only way to keep these and many other vital parts of the team in Baltimore is to get rid of Williams.

Lastly, the Ravens already have their defensive-tackle of the future on the team, Justin Madubuike, the stud whom Ravens drafted (and got a steal) in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft. If all pans out and Madubuike does not end up being a bust, then Williams will definitely be off the team by next season. There is just no place for Williams on this team in the future. If worst comes to worst and Madubuike ends up being a bust, the Ravens will simply draft another interior defensive lineman in next year’s draft, who will be both younger and cheaper.

The Verdict:

Brandon Williams, the longtime Ravens defensive-tackle, is entering his age-31 season and still has three years and $42 million left on his deal signed back in July of 2016. Although he has not shown any signs of regression, it is coming eventually.

Financially, the Ravens cannot afford to keep Williams and his $14 million cap hit if they want to retain their core of emerging stars. Star players such as Matt Judon, Ronnie Stanley, Lamar Jackson, Marlon Humphrey, Mark Andrews, and Orlando Brown Jr, need extensions and fast. Half of the players mentioned will without a doubt reset the market for their position, and if the Ravens want to keep even half of them Williams must be let go.

Overall, Williams makes sense in the short term, but long-term it just does not make sense. Although a great player, Eric DeCosta must make the difficult decision of cutting him after this season, in order to keep the team as a Super Bowl contender for the next decade.