Although the free agency period doesn’t start for another three weeks, the Detroit Lions are trying to get a head start on the game. Teams are still permitted to add players who finished the season without being under contract, and that’s the case for former Browns cornerback K’Waun Williams.
Cut from the Browns just before the season started, the Lions are bringing Williams in for a visit this week according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport:
Williams went undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft, but beat the odds and made the Cleveland Browns squad that year. Not only did he make the team after they had just drafted cornerbacks Justin Gilbert and Pierre Desir the same year, but he also ended up being a significant contributor in 2014; he tallied 38 tackles in 13 games and added an impressive eight passes defended his rookie year. That landed him on Pro Football Focus’ All-Rookie team.
He was quickly developing into the Browns starting nickel corner and his 2015 season was just as impressive, making 39 tackles and forcing three fumbles in 13 games and six starts.
However, things got a little weird in 2016. During organized team activities, Williams injured his ankle. He returned to practice during training camp, but wasn’t fully confident his ankle had healed, so he refused to play in the Browns’ opening preseason game against the Packers. The Browns suspended and fined him for breaking team rules, a move in which he would later file a grievance against. The Browns claim that at this point, Williams said he was going to retire because of the injury. He never filed papers for retirement, but the Browns ended up cutting him.
Williams ended up needing surgery for the ankle, which is why when the Bears tried to sign him later in the year, the transaction was cancelled when Williams couldn’t pass a physical. Now that he is fully cleared, it appears Williams is ready to re-enter the league.
The Lions could use some help in the secondary, especially with nickel corner depth. When Quandre Diggs went down with an injury last season, the Lions shuffled through several players to no avail, failing to find much success with any replacement. Williams play speaks for itself. In fact, going into the 2016 season, Pro Football Focus called him “one of the league’s best slot corners over the last two seasons.”
That would be a huge get for the Lions. Even with a healthy Quandre Diggs, the Lions could use some competition at that level, and at the very least Williams brings special teams experience. Still, there is some reason for concern with this odd situation in Cleveland. Whether Williams is fully committed to the game of football is a serious concern the Lions need to consider.