Best Reaction To Williams' New Massive Contract
There was cause for celebration last night in Baltimore.
The Ravens capped off a strong first day of free agency with their biggest move, re-signing defensive tackle Brandon Williams to a massive five-year contract. The deal is reportedly worth $54 million, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and it allows the Ravens to keep a home-grown talent who was considered the best overall player on the free-agent market.
The Williams news came on the heels of Baltimore signing the NFL's best free-agent safety Tony Jefferson, veteran running back Danny Woodhead, re-signing backup quarterback Ryan Mallett and picking up the 2017 option for their top receiver Mike Wallace.
Keeping Williams was a clear goal for the Ravens going into the offseason, but the interest he garnered from other teams created "plenty of anxiety leading into free agency that the Ravens might be priced out of his market," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
Baltimore continued to pursue Williams while he was able to negotiate with other teams, and the organization's financial commitment to him "suggests the team was determined to keep Williams at all costs," Zrebiec wrote.
The new deal also illustrates Williams' rapid rise from hauling porta potties and getting drafted out of Missouri Southern State just a few years ago. He's now the league's highest-paid nose tackle, eclipsing the five-year, $46.25 million contract signed by Giants nose tackle Damon Harrison last year.
Re-signing Williams means "the Ravens will continue to have one of the best run defenses in the NFL," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
The Ravens have said for years that their first priority on defense is stopping the run, and the decision to keep Williams and acquire Jefferson at safety should go a long way in that regard.
The early days of free agency have often been difficult times in Baltimore, as plenty of fan favorites over the years have left for richer contracts elsewhere. The Ravens lost right tackle Rick Wagner (to Detroit) and fullback Kyle Juszczyk (to San Francisco), but pulled out all the stops to keep Williams.
"It doesn't get any better than this," Hensley wrote.
And now for your enjoyment, here were some of the best reactions to the news on social media:
Keeping Wallace Was A 'No Brainer'
The most significant move the Ravens have made on the offensive side of the ball was to exercise the team option on Wallace. They could have let him walk to create salary-cap space, but local reporters are all in agreement that keeping him was the right move.
Hensley said the decision became a "no brainer."
"When it came time to decide whether to pick up Mike Wallace's option for 2017, there really wasn't a decision," Hensley wrote.
"With Steve Smith having retired and Kamar Aiken hitting the free-agent market, the Ravens couldn't afford to lose Wallace with 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman being the most experienced receiver behind him on the depth chart," added WNST's Luke Jones.
Baltimore had reportedly talked with former Raven Torrey Smith, but he ultimately signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, and Wallace was much more productive last season than most of the other free agents on the market.
Ravens Interested In CB Claiborne
Despite all the moves they made Thursday, the Ravens still have needs to address, and the most pressing is arguably cornerback.
The Ravens have said since the season ended they want to upgrade at the position, and Zrebiec reported they have "legitimate interest" in former No. 6-overall pick Morris Claiborne. He is a free agent after spending the last five years with the Dallas Cowboys, and could come at a discount because of his injury history.
He has never played a full 16-game season, and a groin injury limited him to only seven games last year.
"However, the 27-year-old has 43 starts on his resume and was playing at a high level last year before his injury," Zrebiec wrote.
If the Ravens aren't able to get Claiborne to Baltimore, Hensley believes former Jaguars cornerback Prince Amukamara may become a target. He is a free agent after starting 12 games last season in Jacksonville.
"Claiborne and Amukamara make the most sense for the Ravens," Hensley wrote. "Both are former first-round picks who have shown flashes but also have durability issues, which would make them more affordable for a team looking to stretch its cap dollars."
What Does Browns Trade Mean For Ravens?
The biggest shock of the day came when the Houston Texans dealt quarterback Brock Osweiler to the Cleveland Browns just a year after signing him to a four-year, $72 million contract. Houston also sent a 2018 second-round pick and 2017 sixth-round pick to the Browns, and received Cleveland's fourth-round pick from this year.
The move was really about the Texans getting Osweiler's $16 cap hit off the books for this year, which allows them to pursue Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. According to multiple reports, the Ravens may never actually face the Browns with Osweiler at quarterback.
"Cleveland is not committed to keeping Osweiler, 26, and is likely to try to trade him, sources said," ESPN's Adam Schefter reported. "If that happens, the deal would turn into a basketball-like trade in which NBA teams routinely trade contracts to get them off their books. That kind of move rarely happens in the NFL."
The Browns had ample cap space to take on Osweiler's deal for 2017, but they reportedly do not have any financial commitment to him beyond this season. They are now loaded with three second-round picks in next year's draft.