The Detroit Lions may have just sewn up their backfield for the time being. With praise coming from running backs coach Duce Staley for both D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson, the Lions made an addition in free agency by signing former Packers tailback Jamaal Williams. Per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the two-year deal is worth up to $7.5 million.
Williams, who turns 26 next month, played four years for Green Bay. Last year he ran for 505 yards and received for 236 yards in 14 games, scoring a combined three touchdowns. Pro Football Focus graded him 12th among running backs in the 2020 season.
Williams also did very well as a pass blocker for the Packers, which fits with qualities sought in backs by Staley. In his introductory press conference, Staley shared the importance he places on pass blocking:
“You can be one of the most talented runners out there. You can be the most talented route runner out there. But, if you can’t block, you can’t play for me. Point blank. Period”
The move also seems to point towards the expected departure of Adrian Peterson, who was already giving signs that he might be looking for a better spot to go chase a Super Bowl ring.
Williams will probably look to compete with Kerryon Johnson for the No. 2 back spot on the roster come training camp. Both look to complement D’Andre Swift, who has earned high praise from the Lions coaching staff.
“I think D’Andre can be a three-down back,” offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said in February. “I like his versatility. There are some things we can do with him in the passing game to get him a little bit more involved in that.”