An exit that appeared all but inevitable became official Thursday afternoon as cornerback Cary Williams became the latest defensive player to part ways with the Ravens.
Williams agreed to a three-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles and multiple reports are saying the deal is worth $17 million with $10.5 million guaranteed. This trumps the three-year, $15 million deal the Ravens offered him last season, which is an impressive feat given the deep market for cornerbacks this offseason.
Originally a seventh-round pick out of Washburn College by the Tennessee Titans in 2008, the 28-year-old worked his way up the ranks, beginning as a practice-squad player and special-teams player with the Titans before eventually winding up in Baltimore as a two-year starter at cornerback. Williams started all 16 games in each of the last two years and collected four interceptions and 75 tackles in 2012.
“It was a great opportunity coming from humble beginnings,” Williams told AM 1570 shortly after the announcement was made. “I’m thankful for the opportunity and given a chance. I’m just looking to continue getting better…I’m going to do whatever it takes to win.”
At 6-foot-1, Williams possesses optimum size for a cornerback but was often criticized for playing with too much cushion in coverage against receivers. Still, Williams stepped up his play considerably following the season-ending ACL injury to Lardarius Webb in October. The cornerback also ended any slim chance of a New England comeback in the AFC Championship with an interception of Tom Brady in the end zone late in the fourth quarter.
The offer made by general manager Ozzie Newsome last offseason was no longer on the table as the Ravens and Williams were expected to part ways. Baltimore will lean on a returning Lardarius Webb as well as Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith, and Chykie Brown to top the depth chart.
The Eagles are trying to rebuild their secondary after a disastrous 4-12 season that resulted in the departure of longtime head coach Andy Reid as well as starting cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Williams holds no bitterness toward the Ravens despite expressing strong wishes to remain with the organization following their win in Super Boxl XLVII.
“I don’t take it personally,” Williams said. “I understand what they’re trying to do, and I don’t think Baltimore is hurting at the cornerback position.”
Williams becomes the fifth defensive starter to depart the Ravens’ championship unit, joining the retiring Ray Lewis as well as Bernard Pollard, Paul Kruger, and Dannell Ellerbe. Baltimore could still see two more defenders depart as Reed and Ma’ake Kemoeatu are unrestricted free agents.
The cornerback hopes to bring his winning pedigree to Philadelphia but won’t forget his four seasons in Baltimore and everything the Ravens accomplished.
“It’s a ‘Band of Brothers,'” Williams said. “It was a hell of a run to make a Super Bowl chase. We did that, and we accomplished what we wanted to do.”