Once again, Mike Martz gets his man.
Williams (6-3, 215) has the size that most fans and analysts believe is necessary in order for Chicago's passing game to improve. The receivers on the current roster are all of the short, speedy variety. Williams will give quarterback Jay Cutler a big target, similar to what he had in Denver when throwing to Brandon Marshall. Having a taller player will give the team more options near the end zone, and may mitigate Cutler's tendency to throw off his back foot and sail balls high.
From Williams' standpoint, this move makes a lot of sense. He played for two seasons under Martz in Detroit. His best season came in 2006, when he caught 82 passes for 1,310 yards and seven touchdowns, earning him first-team All Pro honors. He's obviously hoping that by reuniting with Martz, he can recapture some of that magic.
WR Roy Williams
In addition, Bears wide receiver coach Darryl Drake coached Williams during his collegiate years at the University of Texas. He offers additional familiarity.
Williams was traded from the Lions to the Cowboys in 2008. The Cowboys gave up a first-round pick in 2009, plus a third- and sixth-rounder that year, and a seventh-round pick in 2010. The team then signed him to a five-year extension worth $45 million, including more than $20 million guaranteed.
In three seasons with the Cowboys, Williams totaled 93 catches, 1,324 yards and 13 touchdowns – similar to what he accomplished under Martz in 2006 alone. Because of his lack of production he is considered one of the biggest trade busts of the past decade.
Which could give him incentive to prove once again he is an All-Pro wideout.
Yet, for all his natural talent, Williams still hasn't mastered the mental side of the game. His lack of concentration and focus can be staggeringly obvious at times. He's easily disturbed when he's not the focal point of the offense and can seem flat-out uninterested at times.
This results in far too many dropped passes. In fact, Pro Football Focus charted each play during his three-year tenure as a Cowboy and found Williams dropped 15.33 percent of the catchable passes thrown his way. That ranks him at the bottom of the league over the time span.
For these reasons, Dallas had no problem cutting him and his hefty contract, and it's for those same reasons that Williams is a risky pickup by the Bears. He has familiarity with Martz's system, so he should be able to hit the ground running. Yet he's four years removed from the last time he played under Martz and at 29 years old, his best day are almost assuredly behind him.
A career resurgence is possible but it will only happen for as long as he stays motivated. If history is any indication, his demonstrative on-field demeanor could create tension during games when things aren't going well, or if he feels he's being under-used. Williams will need to leave all that behind him and serve as a mentor to the younger receivers if he's going to succeed in Chicago. One would hope that at this point, eight years into his NFL career, that would come natural to him.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.