Arizona Cardinals on the free agent cusp: Tight end Maxx Williams
Feb 19, 2022, 10:15 AM | Updated: 4:50 pm
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
The Arizona Cardinals have decisions to make this offseason, especially when it comes down to free agency.
With more than a handful of key contributors’s contracts expiring, Arizona must choose whether to re-sign the guys they’ve come to know or test the waters for some new blood.
Before the offseason and free agency gets into full swing, Arizona Sports’ Cardinals reporter Tyler Drake and fellow editors Kevin Zimmerman, Kellan Olson and Jake Anderson share their thoughts on who might stay and who will go.
Last but not least, we have tight end Maxx Williams.
Williams originally joined the Cardinals in 2019 after spending the first four years of his career with the Baltimore Ravens.
The tight end just wrapped a two-year deal worth $7 million.
Currently, the Cardinals have Bernhard Seikovits, an International Player Pathway Program addition from 2021, and David Wells signed to future deals. Zach Ertz, Demetrius Harris, Darrell Daniels and Williams are all free agents.
After being the team’s best blocking tight end for the past three seasons, Williams got a lot more run in the passing game.
He was well on his way to setting career marks across the board, reeling in 16 of his 17 targets for 193 yards and a touchdown over five games, until a season-ending knee injury cut his year short.
Another positive is that Williams has been integrated into Kliff Kingsbury’s offense since he first came to the desert in 2019. He’s well-known in the team’s game plan.
And while an ACL tear is never a positive thing, the fact that the tight end suffered the injury in October gives him a solid chance at being ready by Week 1.
The biggest con surrounding Williams is his ACL injury and the unknown of whether or not he lost a step because of it.
There’s also his contract to consider. With Zach Ertz also a free agent, Arizona may have to pick and chose who they keep and who they let walk.
Ertz is coming off a strong 11-game sample size following a midseason trade and will likely command a nice pay day.
Pro Football Focus projects Williams’ next contract to be in the three-year, $18.75 million range with $10 million guaranteed.
Drake: There’s a lot to like about Williams. For a guy who has been pegged as a blocker first, the tight end flashed his abilities as a pass catcher before going down with a season-ending injury. And even when he was out of commission, Williams still proved to be an incredible teammate, going as far as creating his own award for the standout Cardinals player of each week. Depending on where he’s at in his rehab process, I think both sides would be interested in a reunion.
Likelihood of returning?
Drake: High. I think the Cardinals could have one of the better tight end tandems in the league with a combo of Williams and Ertz. The money has to be right for it all to make sense, though. I could see that happening with Williams looking to prove his strong start wasn’t anomaly. There are some glaring needs that must be filled in other areas, though. Do you really want to lock up that much money at tight end?
Zimmerman: High. Even if he’s a No. 2 tight end, he knows the system well and once he gets enough run back from the injury should be able to contribute in some way.
Olson: High. With all of the names covered and the holes on this roster, I doubt the Cardinals will retain both Ertz and Williams. Too much money to spend elsewhere to make this position a luxury, which, to be clear, they should. Because of that, I think Arizona will treat Williams as an even bigger priority to make sure they have their TE1 and move on from there.
Anderson: High. He’ll also only be 28 years old going into next year, which is three years younger than free agent TE Zach Ertz. Williams has proven he fits in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense — especially in the run game — and will cost the team much less than Ertz.