Yup. The Cleveland Browns. Those Browns. The ones you make fun of as the Pittsburgh Steelers pile up on them in Week 17, sending another coach out of the city.
There is a very Browns-like situation going on across state lines. And Pittsburgh could reap the benefits.
I’m not professing to be an expert on the situation but here are the facts surrounding Browns’ cornerback K’Waun Williams.
Five hours ago, after initial reports, the team announced on their website that Williams has been suspended for two weeks. And that’s pretty much all they said. Here’s their full “statement.”
“The Cleveland Browns have suspended DB K’Waun Williams for two weeks and he has been fined for multiple violations of team rules.”
Mary Kay Cabot broke down his situation yesterday for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Williams had been dealing with an ankle injury, missed two practices and the Browns’ preseason opener. But the team announced it was a “personal reason” why Williams missed, essentially implying he took himself out of the game.
After leaving the team to reportedly seek a second opinion on his ankle, the Browns announced his two-game suspension and one game check.
The bottom line is there’s some serious tension between Williams the new Browns’ regime. It’s hard to imagine the two sides patching things up and there’s no ties to the former UDFA who became an asset for the Browns the last two seasons.
It’s not as if the Browns don’t have other options to turn to. Williams has been battling Jamar Taylor for the starting nickel job. In Cabot’s article, defensive back’s coach Louie Cijoffi praised Taylor and maybe took a subtle jab at Williams’ conduct.
“In Jamar’s case, he’s a true professional,” said Cioffi. “He’s embraced the challenge. He’s come in and he’s worked really hard both on and off the field.”
If the relationship between Williams the team is so fractured, his release may be only a formality. And if he hits the market, a team like the Steelers could be in play to scoop him up. He’s a local product, a UDFA out of Pitt, who the team is familiar with by virtue of playing the Browns twice a year. Williams is a slot corner, an area where the Steelers’ depth has been tested after losing Senquez Golson for at least half the season.
Over the last two seasons, Williams has made 10 official starts, broken up ten passes, and forced three fumbles. He saw 516 defensive snaps in 2015.
If the Steelers are unwilling to move William Gay inside, or would at least prefer not to, then they’ll have to bring someone with experience to be Sean Davis’ backup, a Plan B in case of injury or poor play. As much as we have talked about Montell Garner, he isn’t someone who is going to slide into that role.
In my roster prediction, I mentioned a couple names: Robert McClain, Steve Williams, and Terrance Mitchell. But McClain and Williams are no guarantees to be cut and Williams’ resume is more attractive than Mitchell while being more familiar to the team.
The trend for the Steelers have been to sign a cornerback at the end of camp. Four years running, starting with Antwon Blake back in 2013.
The biggest reason against is Williams’ concussion history. He’s suffered three in two years and with the team dealing (dealing?) with Ladarius Green’s similar issues, they may not want to roll the dice again. But with a smaller contract and role, there is significantly less risk here. And could give Pittsburgh some veteran depth in the secondary they sorely lack.