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Why the Packers Kept Tramon Williams

Even at 36-years-old Tramon Williams will play a significant role in Green Bay’s 2019 defense. The future Packers Hall of Famer isn’t the player he once was but he’s still able to contribute at a decent level. That is just part of the reason why the team decided not to cut Williams this offseason to save a nice chunk of change. The veteran has a cap hit $6.375 million this year but the team believes that will be money well spent for the upcoming season.

Williams fell by the wayside among all of Green Bay’s storylines from 2018. However, the fact of the matter is, he was asked to play an entirely new position after 11 years of lining up at corner.

When the Packers traded HaHa Clinton-Dix, they put faith in Williams to drop back and fill that void at safety. He failed to come away with an interception for the first time over an illustrious career but his play remained solid as he addressed the defense’s largest weakness.

Perhaps most importantly, since Williams has returned to Green Bay his role has extended beyond his play on the field. The former Pro-Bowler possesses stewardship over one of the youngest secondaries in the NFL. Rookie Jaire Alexander is a rising star. Meanwhile, Mike Pettine’s unit sees a noticeable boost with Kevin King on the field. Both players have been outspoken regarding the benefits of having Williams around during practice and in meetings. The team also has Josh Jackson and Tony Brown who will take advantage from having Williams as a mentor for at least one more year.

Williams sees the field different than any other player in the Packers secondary which is why he is still an effective player even though he can’t move quite as well as he once did. Last year, Williams played a team-high 1059 defensive snaps. Yes, higher than inside linebacker Blake Martinez.

His workload was entirely too high in 2018 and is part of the reason his production took a hit. Now that the Packers have added two safeties in Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage, Williams can get back to his natural position. Furthermore, Pettine’s defense should see remarkable improvement this year given the latest acquisitions not only to the secondary but also to the front seven.

Williams won’t have to play a thousand snaps in 2019 and that alone should help keep him fresh and enable more production. On the other hand, if injuries did occur it nice to have Williams’ versatility to fall back on.

Expect to see no. 38 play a bulk of his reps in the slot where he can be more aggressive and also lineup closer to the ball. Williams probably won’t have a ton of interceptions in 2019 but his efficiency and leadership in the secondary will pay for his salary tenfold.



Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (39) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

TheBigCheeze's picture

"His workload was entirely too high in 2019"......The 2019 season hasn't started do you know what his workload will be?

Brandon Carwile's picture

Good catch

jww061356's picture

Read it says 2018.

Lare's picture

I like Tramon, but I think $6.375 million is a little steep for a backup player. The Packers can get by with that for the 2019 season but 2020 will be a little different.

Starr57's picture

Tramon is currently starting
King still needs to get back on the field and stay on the field.
Pettines defense is going to call for 5, 6 and even 7 db's at time.
Tramon will be on the field plenty.

Old School's picture

I expect him on the field a lot. On games we suit up 21 defenders and 9 of them are DBs. We don’t have 8 better guys.

Amos. Savage. Alexander. King. Jackson. That’s only 5. And that’s before the first injury. Jones? Greene ?

Coldworld's picture

It’s OTAs and minicamp, risk no one. Relax.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I said before that I thought there is still a chance Williams is not on the opening 53 since 3.25 mil could be saved. But after adding it up I think it's small. Last year they kept 11 at CB and S. My guess at who is on the roster is below. I think I agree with this article that he's too valuable as a band aid and mentor to bother saving a few million.

Tramon Williams, Kevin King, Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, KaDar Hollman,
Darnell Savage, Adrian Amos, Josh Jones, Raven Greene, Tony Brown.

dobber's picture

They couldn't replace him with what they would save to cut him, so in a sense, they're somewhat paying the price for overpaying him a year ago. Still, he's a very flexible piece with a track record of being available a position that has higher attrition than just about any other position on the field.

How many different CBs do we think will see time on the Packers' 53 at some point this season? Unless he falls off a cliff, he'll be better than the majority of them.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Kind of. GB paid Williams $5.25M in 2018. The guy played 1059 snaps at an adequate level, and covered two positions. Worth every penny.

In 2019, GB will pay Williams $4.75M. Age is an issue, but there's a good chance Williams will be worth that amount as well. The cap machination artificially skews things.

Even if one's view is different or he proves not to be worth it, I think GB is in win-now mode. Williams' contribution might not be efficient in terms of the cap space he takes up, but I think Gute is more interested in the contribution rather than its efficiency.

Ditto for Daniels and Graham. They probably won't be worth $10.7M and $12.66M in cap space, but both can still play and contribute to a playoff team. The contribution is more important than whether it is efficient.

murf7777's picture

TW is a consummate pro, one I’m happy is on our roster for 2019! We need his leadership, playing abilities and mentoring. Might’ve lost a step but can play all DB positions if needed.

kevgk's picture

I love the veteran depth, and immaculate character this Green Bay Packer provides. I also like them bringing Marcedes Lewis back too. He isn't a long term answer, but he knows what LaFleur and Hackett will expect from the tight end position, and will help the players behind him incredibly by direct teach and example.
Both Tramon and Marcedes will help the offense and defense function from day 1, and demonstrate what is expected from the next generation of players.

Tundraboy's picture

"Both Tramon and Marcedes will help the offense and defense function from day 1, and demonstrate what is expected from the next generation of players."

Some of the smart decisions this year that give me reason to believe that this team has the potential to blossom sooner rather than later. Just have a real good feeling about this season.

Freezn's picture

Our rookie secondary and tight ends have 2 great teachers at their positions. which will help on offense and defence

Coldworld's picture

I agree with the article. Williams is here as much for his non-playing benefit and leadership as he is as a corner. Given the youth and Amos being new, I think he is going to be a big help. That’s why I think those looking solely at the cap hit for a non starter as a basis for moving on are missing a significant part of the bigger reason he is here.

ILPackerBacker's picture

Tramon played S in Cleveland.
He was miserable bad on returns.
He was not good last year at S .... but looked effective after the completely predictable disaster of Bryce
I would give it as 50 50 on him making the roster this year

Brandon Carwile's picture

Some but no where near the same capacity at FS.

Old School's picture

Since we have 9 DBs suited up for games, and another inactive....who are the nine better guys? And this is before the first injury.

I put him behind Amos, Savage, Alexander, King and Jackson but ahead of the rest. One twisted ankle and he’s starting in the nickel.

nostradanus's picture

This is a young team in the Corner position, veteran leadership is more than worth what he is getting paid to help these young guys learn how to be pros over the long haul.
That is all...

Cubbygold's picture

I like TW, but every decision has to be viewed through the lens of production for the contract. Not saying Tre Boston or Breeland would have accepted a backup role (Breeland may have started over king anyways), but both are experienced players who are far more talented. Breeland is getting $2M this year, well see what Boston ends up taking, it wont be more than TW. For $6M+, I dont see how TW is a superior option.

flackcatcher's picture

Hard cap league my friend. King is signed and under contract. Breeland's knee injury really hurt his ability on contract negotiations. The whole point of signing with the Packers was to show the league he was back. (I wanted the Packers to sign him too) Not fair to either player, but the reality is if you are a veteran player, especially a veteran DB, you better be able to play at least three backfield positions in this league. Williams plays five plus the hybrid/OLB if necessary. To date Boston can only play two. Breeland three (FS in a pinch). If we see the return of a hard run game, then both players value will go way up. But that hasn't happened so.......

Cubbygold's picture

Yeah i guess I'm not too optimistic that king will be able to fill a CB role all year, and would prefer breeland over TW. TW being versitile like that is certainly important, hopefully his age doesn't catch up to him this year. I think Breeland and Boston are both 27 or so.

Coldworld's picture

Breeland went where he did to get a starting opportunity now with a long term need behind it. Boston said he was insulted by what Arizona offered him to be part of a rotation. So don’t think you are looking at the real picture.

flackcatcher's picture

Depends on what is the 'real picture' is. Your view, my view is that of fans seeing what we view as important. Packers deemed Williams as a necessary piece of their rebuilding the team and signed him. Not you, not me. The Green Bay Packers signed him based on their best judgement. My point is a very simple one. In a hard cap league value is judged differently for veterans, and if one is honest, veteran players got the short end of the stick in the last CBA. Simple fact is Breeland has more upside than Boston because he plays more positions than Boston does. With the current rules the safety position is starting to go the way of FB and ILB in this league. Not my view, just the reality of the situation. Williams has something that gives him value to the Packers. So did Breeland, and that got him signed even with the injury risk. Despite being a superior athlete, Boston is limited on the field because of the change in pass rules. Too put it bluntly, adapt or die. Williams and Breeland adapted. The jury is still out on Boston.

flackcatcher's picture

Sorry Coldworld if my comment sounded as if were aimed toward you. That was not my intent. The rules changes the owners passed have so altered the game I wanted to highlight its effects.

Starr57's picture

Some of ypu are getting all caught up on "starters".
Packers will play their base 3-4 less than 25% of the time.

Just because a player isn't in the "starting lineup" , doesnt mean he isn't going to see a good deal of playing time.

The fact that Tramon can play all the db positions probably means he will be in the lineup quite a bit.

flackcatcher's picture

When injuries hit the defense last year, it was Williams making the defensive calls and position shifts in Pettine's system. He was literally teaching those rookie DB cover and route moves on the field. I thought his leadership kept that entire defense from collapsing after the last wave of injuries in Seattle left most of the starters and core player down. He plays all five positions and can play the hybrid/OLB if needed. In a pass happy league, a player like that is solid gold, even at T. Williams age. Seriously, Williams was a top 5 cover CB in his prime. He completely remade himself after a career threatening shoulder nerve injury into a starting slot/safety. He is far better than you give him credit for Brandon, far better.......

wildbill's picture

Not sure I’ve seen Williams play hybrid/OLB. He is 5’11” and 190 pounds and do not see that size being effective at that role. That being said he has been a good bring back and I am glad he has been part of the Packer Family

flackcatcher's picture

Last year preseason early on, and in the Bears game 1st half, Packers played two slot instead of Burks for a couple of series. Brice was one, Williams was the other. Brice being Brice, the Bears attacked him and Packers got out of that formation fast.

stockholder's picture

Perry and Whitt just couldn't get the job done. Dix was becoming a failure. Who would look to Him ? Enter Tramon Williams. He played with the best. And thats why he is still needed. Williams didn't have to prove anything. The disconnect was Dix. Did we miss Dix? Williams is doing what Dix should have. Lead and show what experience is about. I got your back, count on me. This defense was dead for years. Williams won't put anybody in jeopardy. The broken pieces can be fixed. Williams gave this defensive unit hard work. He just couldn't do it alone. He had to have help. The secondary is such a big part of any defense. Tramon Williams showed the rookies what they should be. He Shared his thoughts and feelings. Be professional for the good of everyone.

Freezn's picture

Chicago claims that Ha Ha is better than Amos I would like to know what drugs the bears coach was on but I sure would like to get some so I can get stupid too. It will be fun watching our running backs running over Ha Ha

arthurl's picture

Packers are smart to hang onto TW. There is definitely some young talent at the position, but none of these guys have shown they can make it through an entire season. Fact Williams had all those snaps at his age doesn’t say much for dependability of this group. Now if they could all stay healthy this could be a nice secondary. Breeland had his share of injuries too, so why folks think he’s an upgrade. TW has been a steady and mostly durable player his whole career

Madfan's picture

"Production took a hit".....

"The future Packers Hall of Famer isn’t the player he once was but he’s still able to contribute at a decent level. That is just part of the reason why the team decided not to cut Williams this offseason to save a nice chunk of change."

I agree with much in the article and wasn't aware that he played so many snaps. But I have to question these two statements.

It seems production, as it is being used in this article, is be measured in some simple way, such as interceptions. But performance/production is based on many things.

How does the author know what was in the mind of Gutekunst in terms of keeping or cutting Williams? One can speculate, but I don't recall any Packer spokesperson making a statement that they were considering cutting Williams, but decided to keep him for this specific reason. Perhaps I missed something.

PAPackerbacker's picture

Tramon Williams may not be as fast as he once was but he is a smart, very smart, player who gets the respect he deserves from his teammates as well as opponents. His leadership is worth keeping him on the roster. He has played a team high 1059 snaps at age 35!! This is an incredible amount of playing time. He still has skills that can be used to help the Packers defense. Maybe not the 1059 snaps, but with the talent they have available now they can rest Tramon and get the most out of his talents and skills.

jww061356's picture

I think Williams is a heady player that can impart some much needed savvy to the young DBs. I think this will show up on the field, on the sideline during games, and in the locker room. He knows how to lead, something Clinton-Dix knew nothing about IMO.

Freezn's picture

I would take Tramon with one leg over Ha Ha. Ha Ha is always the one you can see the back of his jersey when the apposing team runs the ball at him. Its hard to lead when your back is turned

Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

TW late in his career reminds me of that Toby Kieth song, “I ain't as good once was,
But I'm as good once, as I ever was.…”
He can still get it done and he’ll be better with limited snaps.

IceBowl's picture

Sorry all but TW is not kept yet. Like so many, TBD.

TW fills a great roll for the Pack, and was great to have last year.

But there were also young, talented eyes keeping track of his play too. If their talent shows up, like so many others, the Pack has no choice but to save the $$. We have seen it over and over.

And if he gets released, MIN, or someone picks him up.

I still think he can help the Pack, but the cheaper young dogs can bark.

jannes bjornson's picture

They paid him a bonus in March so he's not going anywhere.

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