Last week, the Oakland Raiders said goodbye to defensive tackle Dan Williams. It was an expected cap casualty move as Williams had $4.5 million cap hit. The move for added cap space may or may not result in the addition of Marshawn Lynch at running back. Williams deserves to be remembered for more than the roster spot that helped them nab Beast Mode. Williams embodied the modern Raider and helped Oakland establish a winning culture.
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Granted, Williams will never have his No. 90 jersey retired. He never made a Pro Bowl with the team. In fact, half of his two-year tenure was filled with battles for playing time and weight loss.
Nonetheless, Williams was one of the first marquee free agents to sign aboard the Silver and Black rebuild. Remember how thirsty we were for free agents before the class of 2015? We were begging for players like Pot Roast Knighton. Sure, Williams and Rodney Hudson were not the sexy, household names that we wanted as free agents. However, they were the blue-collar players that we needed. Without Williams, guys like Sean Smith might not sign with us.
Moreover, Williams wrote a beautiful article for The Players Tribune after he joined the Raiders. He talked about signing with the Silver and Black as a tribute to his late father who was a member of Raider Nation. Therefore, Williams understood what it meant to be a member of the Raiders. He did not take that for granted. The defensive tackle was also an outstanding member of the organization during community outreach events and towards local media. He made moves with his own charity for Diabetes too.
On the field, Williams steadily declined. In 2016, he started four less games, made 22 less tackles and registered .5 less of a sack than he did in 2015. His Pro Football Focus grades don’t make him look any better. He finished with a 74.4 accumulative grade in 2016, which was the worst of his career. Williams had an 85.1 accumulative grade from the same subscription service in 2015.
The 29-year-old’s decline can be attributed to the physicality of the interior defensive line position. It is difficult to stay heavy enough to take a beating every play, but in-shape enough to be a consistent player. This is why defensive line is a difficult position to play in the league.
Raider Fans should not forget his legacy with Oakland Williams was a worker, who set the example for what it is to be a Raider in the community and on the field. He taught young players to not take the Silver and Black for granted.
Although Williams wasn’t the impact player that we needed, he helped us acquire free agents and a winning culture. Williams deserves to be remembered as something more than just another cap casualty. Personally, I wish him luck finding work with another team. Thank you Dan Williams. Once a Raider, always a Raider!
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