Commentary: CB must be retained for insurance

Green Bay will soon cut ties with cornerback Tyrone Williams, but if all goes well in free agency, the Packers will do everything they can to resign the veteran.<p>

Williams is expected to be released by the Packers within the next couple of weeks because he is due a $4 million roster bonus on March 1. That was part of a five-year, $20.5 million deal that he signed in 1999. The fifth year was basically added for salary cap purposes. Williams knew that from the start and knows he will be released prior to the start of free agency on Feb. 28.

But will Williams accept a lower salary to return for his ninth season? We can only hope so. Plan on the Packers selecting a cornerback at some point in the upcoming draft, but Williams would provide the team with insurance if the draft pick turns out to be another Fred Vinson instead of Mike McKenzie.

If Williams signs with another team, the Packers currently have third-year pro Bhawoh Jue as a possible starter. Tod McBride, who also is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, was the team's top backup at cornerback the last three seasons and started four games, three for McKenzie and one for Williams. He may be a candidate to succeed Williams. While McBride has value on special teams over Williams, he is not as good as Williams at cornerback.

Williams only had one interception last year, but he had 11 passes defensed, second on the team, and was fifth on the team in tackles with 71.

Williams still has value and has the ability to compete as a starter. He is durable, having missed his first game in his pro career last December with a hamstring injury. He was part of a defense that was ranked third in the league against the pass, despite an ineffective run-defense.

The Packers' banged-up defensive line ultimately had a trickle-down effect on the secondary as the season progressed.

While this year's NFL draft is deep with cornerbacks, can the Packers really afford to put their trust in the oft-injured Jue, or McBride, who gave up the most touchdowns – five – among Green Bay's defensive backs last year? Or an unproven rookie?

The Packers want to go deeper into the playoffs next season, so re-signing Williams should be one of the team's top priorities as well as drafting a cornerback to re-inforce the depth in the secondary. If the rookie beats out Jue and Williams, great. If not, the Packers have their bases covered with Williams.

Packer Report Top Stories