The Baltimore Ravens probably realize that pending free agent nose tackle Brandon Williams is their top offseason priority. In somewhat of a throwback to days of old, the four-year veteran is legitimately the anchor of Baltimore’s defensive line, having played about 65 percent of the team’s snaps over the course of the past two years.
He is also easily one of the top interior defenders set to hit the open market, and certainly the top true nose tackle in that category. It seems inevitable that he will be paid a pretty healthy contract no matter where he ends up, and the Ravens know that.
Luckily for them, it’s not just about money for Williams, who talked about his pending free agency on SiriusXM recently, as transcribed by Jeff Zrebiec for the Baltimore Sun. He may not just go to the team that throws the most money for him. It also has to be the right fit not only for him as a player, but for his family as a place to live.
“If it so happens where I just feel like, ‘you know what, Baltimore is the best place for me’, then I’ll stay and we’ll work it out from there”, he said. “If not and I see somewhere else and I just feel it’s … [and] that’s where I need to be, then that’s where I’ll be. But right now it’s just up in the air”.
“It’s about money obviously, but it’s not really that much about money” Williams continued. “It’s about where I feel the most comfortable and where I feel like my family will feel the most comfortable”. The veteran has two children in school in the Baltimore area, and signing elsewhere would require uprooting them. He is also active in the community according to Zrebiec.
“Baltimore is a great place”, he said. “It’s not new to me, so it’s comfortable. I know the playbook. I don’t have to worry about going to another place and looking for another home for my family and a school for my kids”.
Still, that doesn’t mean he is prepared to walk into negotiations offering himself up for a proverbial hometown discount. “It all comes down to me taking care of my family for the long term and taking care of my kids for the long haul”.
A possible factor in that equation is the fact Williams will be turning 28 this week, which is on the older side for a player hitting his first free agency. The majority of first-time free agents tend to be 26 or 27—some even 25. But he was a bit on the older side when he came into the league. A five-year deal would take him through his age-32 season, and perhaps his last contract.
Williams has been a thorn in the Steelers’ side for the past three years, though they finally handled him reasonably well—or managed to avoid him—in their last meeting. I certainly won’t shed any tears if he leaves the division.