Free-agent countdown: CB Tramon Williams
Editor's note: Prior to the start of the new league year in March, Press-Gazette Media is counting down the top unrestricted, restricted and exclusive-right free agents the Green Bay Packers will have to decide on this offseason.
Eight years ago, the Cinderella story was born in the Green Bay Packers' locker room.
Tramon Williams, a former walk-on at Louisiana Tech, made the 53-man roster out of training camp in 2007. It came less than a year after Williams first arrived in Green Bay on the practice squad.
Williams has played in 140 of a possible 141 games since then and epitomized dependability. His 22 interceptions since 2010 (including playoffs) trail only Seattle's Richard Sherman for most among NFL defenders.
He's become one of the franchise's greatest success stories. Ask any late-round rookie or undrafted free agent in the locker room who they idolize and most will point in the direction of Williams, who missed only one game in 2011 despite suffering nerve damage in his shoulder.
This past year, he shook off a midseason ankle injury to play in all 16 regular-season games for the seventh time in his career. He's recorded 153 tackles over the last two seasons, which are his most in back-to-back seasons.
The four-year, $33 million extension Williams signed near the end of the 2010 season will expire next week and he'll be a free agent for the first time in nearly a decade. Williams, who'll turn 32 on March 16, hopes to be back in Green Bay, but there are a lot of factors in play.
Packers general manager Ted Thompson will need to reassess his cornerbacks, a position of strength for the past few seasons. Another veteran, Davon House, is also scheduled to hit free agency in less than one week. Only 25, House has flashed potential but has dealt with injuries and inconsistency. A rotational player in Green Bay, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound cornerback is eying a starting job.
The Packers know what they're getting in Williams, but inside linebacker A.J. Hawk was proof of how quickly a veteran can decline. Williams hasn't had another year quite like 2010 when he registered nine interceptions, including playoffs, but has been steady. He had 70 tackles and three interceptions last season.
According to Pro Football Focus, opposing quarterbacks completed 63-of-98 passes (64.3 percent) for 743 yards and eight touchdowns against Williams' coverage for a 101.7 passer rating, the highest of his career.
House likely will command more money than Williams given his size and age in a league starved of competent defensive backs. Williams' ability to hold off the hands of time can't be discounted, either. He played more snaps (1,134) than any other defensive player in 2014.
The Packers have three capable cornerbacks in Sam Shields, Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde under contract for next season, along with a prospect they like in 2014 sixth-round pick Demetri Goodson. If Williams and House leave, they'll need to develop another prospect on the perimeter and quickly.
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Tramon Williams, ninth-year cornerback.
The skinny: Unrestricted free agent.
The snaps: 1,138 total (1,134 defense, four special teams).
The stats: 70 tackles, three interceptions, 13 pass deflections.
2014 salary: $7.5 million.
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