He’s been a thorn in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ side for the last two seasons. But 2016 might have been the last time the team will have to face him twice in a season. Baltimore Ravens’ nose tackle Brandon Williams is reportedly likely to sign elsewhere in the offseason, per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.
Per his report.
“Nose tackle Brandon Williams will leave in free agency after another team gives him a deal similar to the one signed last year by Giants defensive tackle Damon Harrison ($24 million guaranteed).”
There is no guarantee the Ravens will be unable to retain him though I can’t imagine Hensley would use such strong and definitive language if he wasn’t clued in on the situation.
Williams is regarded as one of the best nose tackles in the league, and to me, he’s above everyone else. He made 46 starts for the Ravens since 2014, racking over over 160 tackles and 4.5 sacks. But the tape gives you a better idea of the impact he’s had, constantly attracting double-teams and being a handful at the line of scrimmage.
Baltimore finished tied for the 4th best run defense in 2016, allowing only 3.7 yards per carry. They finished in the top ten in rush defense all three seasons Williams started for them.
As Hensley points out, the market for run-stuffing nose tackles has gone up after Damon Harrison’s five year, $46.2 million contract he signed last year with the New York Giants.
Assuming Williams doesn’t sign with the Cincinnati Bengals or Cleveland Browns, fingers crossed about that, he’ll be out of the Steelers’ hair. The only hang up is who Baltimore will be replacing him with. They’re high on UDFA Michael Pierce, who rotated with Williams this season. He’s thickly built just like Williams is, weighing in at 6’0 329 at his Pro Day, while showing some impressive athleticism. He nearly ran a sub 5 40 time at his Pro Day.
Even so, I think it’ll be a sigh of relief to the Steelers’ offensive line, and to me, for what that’s worth, to see #98 in another uniform.