However, in his contract season of 2006 Redding racked up a career-high eight sacks in Detroit's final 11 games. He finished with a career-high 70 tackles in his fourth season as a pro. Prior to that season, he had never had more than 42 tackles and three sacks in a season while playing next to nose tackle Shaun Rogers, a two-time Pro Bowl selection.
Williams is in a similar boat this season as Redding was last year, though, Williams has consistently played better than Redding over the past two seasons. Williams enters Sunday's game with seven sacks, 32 tackles and three forced fumbles. Last year he had seven sacks as well and 47 tackles with 11 starts.
At 6-foot-4, 313 pounds is a little bigger than the 6-4, 290-pound Redding. Both are team leaders, but it is obvious that Williams has been consistently better than Redding over the past two seasons, though, Williams has not been a regular starter. He has started eight games this season, including the last five in place of the injured Johnny Jolly.
What does this mean for Williams? Look for him to land a big contract this off-season as a free agent, but not with the Packers. In all liklihood, it will be similar to Redding's deal, which probably will leave the Packers on the outside looking in. Though Green Bay would love to have Williams in the defensive line rotation for next year, the Packers have invested heavily in recent seasons in Ryan Pickett, Aaron Kampman, Cullen Jenkins and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. They also selected defensive tackle Justin Harrell No. 1 overall in the NFL draft last April, and have been fond of Jolly till he sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in late November.
Since defensive line is Green Bay's deepest position, the Packers probably will stay out of a bidding war for Williams' services this off-season and allow him to cash in with another team. In the meantime, look for the Packers to select another defensive lineman in the draft and plan on Jolly, Harrell and Colin Cole battling for a starting spot in 2008 next to Pickett.
Unless Pickett or another of Green Bay's defensive lineman sustains a major injury between now and the end of the post-season, Williams will be wearing different colors next season. It's a salary cap way-of-the-NFL thing - good for Williams, not-so-good for the Packers. Williams deserves the big contract, but the Packers are in no position to give it to him due to depth and other investments in defensive linemen. All they can hope for is that he signs with an AFC team that they don't play very often.
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.