The St. Louis Rams made a free agent move on Monday. This time the team brought back one its own free agents, re-signing offensive lineman Chris Williams to a one-year deal that could be worth up to $2.75 million.
Rams re-signed G Chris Williams to a one-year deal worth up to $2.75 million.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 1, 2013
Dig deep into your memories from last year. The Rams added Williams during the season, amid a rash of offensive line injuries. Williams saw 82 snaps in three appearances for the Rams last year, most of his work came as a right guard in place of Harvey Dahl. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed a sack, two hits and two hurries.
He didn't get much playing time even with the Rams hurting for help along the line. That's notable.
As a former first-round pick, there is a certain curiosity to Williams. Can he live up to the billing? Is he better off as a guard than a tackle? Let's try to answer, or at least wrap our heads around, some of the questions related to this signing.
- What's his role? - Notice the "up to" part of his deal. That almost certainly indicates that money is attainable based on playing time. As a guy who can play tackle and guard, Williams has a certain appeal to a team that just lost Rob Turner, another versatile lineman. It's doubtful that he is pegged for a starting role, but he could compete for that in camp. The veteran minimum is likely to be the only money that counts against the cap for now.
- Will he pan out? - Who knows. He's been in the league since 2008, and hasn't had much success. His best season was, arguably, with the Bears in 2009 as a tackle. He converted to guard the season after that, and missed time with injuries. Rams OL coach Paul Boudreau has had success with a wide range of players. Still, you have to think Williams' upside is as a versatile backup.
- What about Harvey Dahl? - Injured, aging and carrying a big cap, a lot of people wonder if Dahl might not get the boot. I doubt it. He was the Rams' most valuable lineman last season. A restructure might be in the offing if the Rams need to find cap room for another move, but I'd go ahead and pencil Dahl in for the starting right guard spot this season.
In the end, there's no guarantee that Williams will even make the final cut. With the draft less than a month away, the Rams could have a new face or two for the offensive line by the time May OTAs get underway. For now, signing Williams to an incentive-laden contract is a low-risk move for the Rams.