Patriots Signing Mario Williams: Realistic or Pipe Dream?

Mario Williams Patriots

Could the Patriots possibly land Mario Williams?

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

With the deadline for placing the franchise tag on players passing last night, the actual free agent class has become much more clear. This year the most prolific player to escape the franchise tag is Houston Texans DE/OLB Mario Williams.

Williams is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL and still just entering the prime of his career. What are the chances that Williams could land in New England and would the Patriots really be willing to spend the money to secure him?

Here’s my take:

While it is out of character for the New England Patriots to go out and spend big time money in free agency, there are specific examples of the team spending  money on the top available pass rusher on the free agent market.

In 2003, the Patriots shelled out a long term contract and money to a 25 year old OLB from the Chicago Bears named Rosevelt Colvin. In 2007, the Patriots signed Baltimore Ravens OLB Adalius Thomas, who was widely considered the top free agent available on the market to a long term deal.  Both of these circumstances are very similar.

In each case the Patriots were considered very close to being a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The 2002 the Patriots had a Super Bowl hangover and missed the playoffs, due to a shaky defense and a poor pass rush. In 2006, the Patriots came extremely close to going to the Super Bowl, blowing a 21-3 lead in the AFC Championship game to the Indianapolis Colts.  

In both cases, Bill Belichick went out that off season with an aggresive approach and attacked the free agent and trade market to fill the team needs. That aggressive strategy off the field made a difference on the field, resulting in back to back Super Bowl Championships and an undefeated regular season, respectively.

The Patriots are currently in a similar situation.  They were within one completion of winning yet another Super Bowl title, despite having one of the worst pass defenses in NFL history. While the offense is prolific and has most of their impact players returning, the defense has many free agents to re-sign and holes to fill. The needs are so prolific that it’s hard not to be enamored with the idea of Mario Williams being a potential fit for the Patriots.

Does Mario Williams fit the Patriots Defense?

Williams would be a tremendous fit in the Patriots system, there’s no denying that. Not only is Williams regarded as one of the best 4-3 rush ends in the entire league, but he also showed this year before he got injured that he could stand up and play OLB. He made the switch flawlessly and looked even more dangerous rushing from an OLB position.

In the five games before he sustained a torn pectoral muscle which ended his season, Williams had recorded five sacks and looked natural playing on his feet. Williams would be able to fill the Willie McGinest “elephant” role, which the Patriots just have not been able to fill since McGinest has left.

Bill Belichick has drafted players such as Shawn Crable and Jermaine Cunningham, hoping that they could evolve into that type of player. Williams would give the Patriots a player who is every bit if not better than Willie McGinest was at any point in his career. Williams would allow the Patriots to be versatile in their schemes and play both 3-4 and 4-3 while keeping an elite pass rusher on the field.

Bill Belichick became famous for coaching the best pass rushing LB of all time-Lawrence Taylor-and finding ways to use him. Belichick would have a field day finding ways to move Williams around and create mismatches with opposing offenses.

Adding Williams would also take some of the pressure off of other front seven players like Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo. Williams would immediately become the #1 concern of opposing teams and teams would have to spend a lot of time game planning against him, which would ultimately benefit the other players on the Patriots roster. Williams is the type of versatile player that Bill Belichick looks for and covets.

What Would it Take to Get Him?

It’s going to take something massive. Williams just turned 27 in January, so he is just entering the prime of his career. This caliber of pass rusher just doesn’t hit the free agent market often. There is going to be a feeding frenzy around Williams with 10-15 teams in the running to sign him.

To get Williams to sign on the dotted line, it’s going to take a contract that makes him the highest paid defensive end in the league and a contract that has a good portion of the money guaranteed. This past season, Richard Seymour made 15 million dollars, making him the highest paid defender in the league. Elvis Dumervil has a contract which pays him 14 million dollars annually. Those numbers are a good starting point.

Taking a stab at the potential contract, I’d say that to get Williams in a Patriots uniform it would have to be a contract in the area of 8 years and 128 million dollars with 60-70 million dollars guaranteed. That puts the average annual value of the deal around 16 million dollars, which would make him the highest paid defensive player in the league. Which ever team signs him will also have to front load a lot of the money to make the package all that more attractive.

Will the Patriots Actually Sign Him?

I fully expect the Patriots to at least explore the possibility, much like they did with Julius Peppers. The Patriots may even make him a legitimate offer. However, I wouldn’t hold my breathe when it comes to Williams. The numbers being thrown around are unheard of when talking about the Patriots organization.

There’s no doubt that the Patriots would be an attractive landing spot for Williams and will it’s something that will likely intrigue him. If he was willing to take 3-4 million per years less to come to New England I believe the chances would increase exponentially. But in the end I think it will be too much money and Bill Belichick will be unwilling to give out that type of contract to just one player.

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26 Responses to “Patriots Signing Mario Williams: Realistic or Pipe Dream?”

  1. Tanner says:

    i dont think i want super mario. they should just adress pass rush in draft. there are some great pass rusher in the draft this year, ie. nick perry-USC vinny curry-Marshall, Melvin Ingram, andre branch, etc…… pick up two pass rushers, one with the 31st pick, then one with the second second round selection. use the 27th pick on janoris jenkins or best corner available, and the first second round pick on harrison smith. trade no draft picks this year and the pats win the super bowl.

  2. Jared says:

    I think its a pipe-dream, I cant help but think Julius Peppers… Who I think was a more impactful player commanding less money when he hit FA a couple yrs ago. M.Williams will get somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million at 27 years old. Im not even sure as a fan I like that move. I think I would take a resign of Andre Carter, a John Abraham, AND a Brandon LLoyd… ALL for approximately the same money.

  3. Lundahl says:

    I understand it’s fun to speculate on notorious free agents, except it’s every year on and on, and we all know these guys sign with their current teams. It’s a waste.

  4. bill says:

    The patriots will roll forward 7 mllion in cap space that was unspent in 2011. Leaving them with at least 21 million in cap space for 2012 minimum even if they dont sign Welker to a more Cap friendly long term deal.

  5. vegangrummer says:

    It seems like Welker and Mario could both be signed this year (maybe?) with the cap space, but then you’re running out of money when it comes time to re-sign Gronk and Hernandez.

    Instead of the “all in” people keep posting about in the form of trading up picks to get “that guy”, maybe this is a more logical way to do it.

  6. Jeff says:

    Bill will always consider every option out there…but there’s ZERO chance he is going to go out and offer him a deal that’s twice as long as any other deal he offers, and pay the guy DOUBLE what Vince is making…no chance.

    It’s more likely that BB will use both 1st rounders AND both 2nd rounders on pass rushing tweeners under 6’2″ and less than 240 lbs…which is to say…neither will be happening.

  7. qwerty says:

    >This past season, Richard Seymour made 15 million dollars, making him the highest paid defender in the league

    the Raiders are in the worst salary cap situation also

    if patriots let welker go then i would give thumbs up

    the bengals are in the best position salary cap wise

    • qwerty says:

      but not for 14 million. no way. 10 million would be tops.

    • qwerty says:

      just because someone got paid by another team some amount, it doesn’t mean patriots should pay him that much or more. super bowl contenders have more talent so they have to spread the money around more. each team has their roster situation and density of talent. they have to work within that context.

      to manage the salary cap, you need to draw the line.

      1 Cincinnati Bengals $39500000
      2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers $30300000
      3 Washington Redskins $29500000

      the teams above seem like the best situation for him since they may have more wiggle room.

      • Jeff says:

        Except when you look and see that all those teams suck…and realize the Pats were 1 catch from a SB win, and that they have $25 mil in cap and less holes to plug.

        • qwerty says:

          if they sign draft picks and welker. that could leave roughly 10 million. i’d rather have three 5 million dollar players than one 14 million dollar player.

    • Jeff says:

      The Raiders also drafted Jamarcus Russell with the #1 overall pick, but you don’t see anyone else making moves like that.

  8. AM says:

    The issue isn’t whether the Patriots would make a quality offer–I can see them doing that for a player of Williams’s caliber. The issue is more whether some other team will grossly overpay, which I think is likely to happen, and will price most of the serious contenders out of the market. This one has Washington or Dallas written all over it.

    • Jeff says:

      Yup. It’s all about who’s dumb enough to pay how much.
      (see Evans, Jahri; Haynesworth, Albert; Clement, Nate; Holmes, Santonio, etc)

  9. Jim R says:

    It would address a lot of the issues on Defense. He is 3 players rolled into 1. 5-tech, 34 end and olb. Lets do this thing. Every now and then BB does something unexpected. All of a sudden the dbacks become a whole lot better.

  10. td says:

    IMO it’s a pipe dream. BB has not been able to fill that old McGinest role with College players. He probably will not fill it with veterans because the price, like Williams is way too high.

    His value is not high enough. At $14mil/year he would need to play 99% of the defensive plays, have 20 sacks and 100 tackles.

    • Jeff says:

      The question is…Why spend $16 every year over 8 years and commit $80 mil guaranteed to ONE guy, and if he get’s hurt then you’re screwed??? Not feasible.

      BB would rather have guys like Andre Carter and Mark Anderson for a combined $3 mil per year along side a guy like JC who can play the run on early downs, and then swap in the pass rusher later than commit that kind of money.

  11. Dan says:

    I say, “yes”, I think they will go after him seriously.

  12. Dan says:

    It’s a totally realistic pipedream…

  13. MJP says:

    P.S…..can you dig some stuff up on Devon Wylie from Fresno St?

    He had a foot injury which he finally overcame this year and had his best season, granted not a stellar one, BUT just watch him stop and go like nobody else, he’s fast too. I know this gets thrown around a lot but he really does look like Welker (actually, a more explosive version).


    • Mike Loyko says:

      Yea I will get a Devon Wylie report out soon

    • NEPD says:

      Wylie is a great player that might be available in the later rounds. Although if a team wants to draft the next Welker/Edelman clone, they might bite early.

  14. DWE 2012 says:

    Issues with Logan Mankin’s that led him to publicly speak specific’s that were far more worse in many opinion’s than Randy Moss did for also not having a contract ready(even though he wasn’t even asking for a king’s ransom; just a simple two year deal would have done Moss Just fine and he would have retired a NEPATRIOT).

    The Pat’s notorious for NOT shuttling out Super Contract’s.

    Belichick spending year’s now NOT taking care of the “D” when he is/was a “Defensive Guy”.

    …..I’d love to see it for the right price, but without other pieces in place that are clearly needed on the “D” (which is a half a dozen pieces), it would be a waste without REAL D-Back’s behind to back it up. I just don’t even see BB caring enough about the “D” to even bother with Mario nevermind for the expensive price tag he’ll garner.

  15. MJP says:

    My right brain says you’re %100 correct….my left brain wants you to know that it hates you with a passion for agreeing with that rational d^ckhead neighbor of his.

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