Ageless Williams still provides Packers' secondary with versatile depth

As the oldest player on the roster, Tramon Williams isn't expected to be the young and spry defensive back he once was -- but that doesn't mean he can't be utilized.

-- It's no coincidence that one of the most forgotten men in the Green Bay Packers' secondary this offseason has also been their oldest.

At 36 years old, Tramon Williams is entering his 13th season in the NFL since being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Houston Texans in 2006. But one team's trash is often another team's treasure; the Packers signed Williams to their practice squad two months after he was released.

He went on to play in 127 of his next 128 games with the Packers through the 2014 season.

After a couple stops elsewhere, Williams was signed for a $10 million dollar reunion last year. But his first season back in Green Bay took somewhat of an interesting turn.

Once they shopped Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at the trade deadline, the Packers were in dire need of a starting free safety. Enter Williams, who offered the Packers an experienced, veteran presence on the back end capable of tracking deep balls efficiently.

That versatility is one of the things that makes Williams so valuable to defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. It's under Pettine -- who Williams played under during his time with the Cleveland Browns -- that the Packers are expecting to reap the dividends defensively and take a leap in year two of his system.

"It’s a big advantage," Williams told Packers.com on Tuesday. Players returned to the facility this week for voluntary minicamp, giving them an opportunity to dive deeper into operations on each side of the ball.

"If you do the research in this league, a lot of people who are able to stay in a defense, year two is always better than year one. I thought we performed solid in year one, and in year two we’re expecting better things. Hopefully the guys come to work, get down the defense, get down the details and we’ll be ready when the season starts."

Williams' ability to fill a void at free safety doesn't mean the Packers won't target one in the early rounds of this week's draft. They acquired former Chicago Bears safety Adrian Amos in free agency last month, but the jury is still out on just where he'll play extensive snaps. He played over 60 percent of his snaps last season at free safety, but he can also play in the box as an alternative to his natural strong safety position.

Like Amos, one of Williams' best traits -- and possibly the best way to justify his salary -- is being able to fill multiple positions.

"I’ve been one of the guys who’ve been in coach Pettine’s defense for years now from my Cleveland days, so it’s just that advantage of knowing everything and them having that flexibility of moving me around," Williams said. "Not a lot of teams can do that, so I take pride in that also."

2019 could be Williams' final season -- not just with the Packers, but in the league. While he has shown no signs of bodily deterioration, his contract with the team will have expired and he'd be on the cusp of 37 years old by next year's free agency period.

For now, the Packers have the luxury of relying on Williams not just as cornerback depth, but someone who can step in and play a centerfield-type of role. 

It's a crowded room at cornerback with the likes of Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, Kevin King and Tony Brown, but Williams, being a veteran, could be given priority on the depth chart this summer when the Packers open up their training camp slate.

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

0 points

Comments (11)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
NickPerry's picture

April 24, 2019 at 06:06 am

Could you have imagined the Packers at Safety last season if they didn't have Williams to plug in there? He may get there a half step slower, but at least he's always there to suit up and gives you 100%. Something that was lost on HHCD.

7 points
8
1
Spock's picture

April 24, 2019 at 09:01 am

Nah, Old School doesn't like those "versatility" guys. What a waste using a CB as a Safety, eh? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ :) (Sorry, to Old School. I'm just yanking your chain). Seriously, I'm glad to have Tramon. Reminds me of how Woodson was able to move around. Old guys who still have most of their athleticism and can move around in a defense are Gold. There is no substitute for how experience coupled with instinct can keep a guy in the league. Glad we've got him. That said I hope we can draft a great safety and let Williams play exclusively at CB as I think he's even more valuable there.

1 points
1
0
Leatherhead's picture

April 24, 2019 at 02:26 pm

I love versatility. That's one of the reasons I wanted to keep Hyde.

But Woodson at safety wasn't a particularly successful strategy, and he's a HOF defender for sure. Collins got injured in 2011.....we set an NFL record for bad pass defense. Over the next couple of years, we were bad. Kaepernick shredded us in 2012 with Woodson on the field after missing much of the year injured.

So I can't count Woody as a success at that, or Tramon either. They helped more than they hurt but our defenses were bad when they played safety.

I don't know why the secondary play improved when we switched to Tramon, but it did. I'd suspect it was his leadership and communication that cut down on those "who am I covering" moments that we were having.

0 points
0
0
AgrippaLII's picture

April 24, 2019 at 06:26 am

Gutekunst has to find a good CB prospect in this draft...also a FS,DT,RT,ILB,TE,RB,etc.etc,etc. Yep! His job is really easy!

0 points
1
1
zeroluv's picture

April 24, 2019 at 06:58 am

He doesn’t need to find a RB this year really and a CB isn’t a need because if he drafts a safety or even signs a safety like Trey Boston on the cheap....Williams can slide to the slot. So really he needs to hope for some luck and ILB Devin Bush falls to us at 12, a RT like Dillard falls to 30, and Simmons falls to 44 do to his injury status. If that happens and it’s a very plausible scenario...the Packers are looking good for 2020 with all the starters are are projected to let walk. At 75 there will be plenty of good safety’s left since that position was mostly filled across the league in Free Agency. In round 4 we have two picks and I would trade up to the 3rd to draft a Player that falls. (TE, DL or OT)

-1 points
2
3
zeroluv's picture

April 24, 2019 at 06:48 am

Tramon will be a great mentor this year for Alexander, Josh Jackson and King. Hopefully King can get on Williams training regiment to help him from always getting injured. I’m excited about GreenBay’s secondary and next year with Williams contract up and he leaves....there will be 5 million dollars in cap space. Gutey really needs to hit this draft. Last years draft was good but to make up for 3 years of TT drafting duds...Gutey needs to hit this draft. Next year we will lose Bulaga, Graham, Williams, Daniels and possibly Martinez if his asking price is too high and we will only have 25 million in cap space to work with. For sure less if we sign Martinez long term.

0 points
2
2
dobber's picture

April 24, 2019 at 07:24 am

You forget Fackrell on that list...and if he gets 6+ sacks this season, he'll be more pricey than we would've thought 12 months ago IF they choose to retain him. Unless they draft a fireball edge, I think he's going to get plenty of snaps this season even with the two FA signings.

Another argument to get a viable edge in the first two days of this draft.

4 points
4
0
RCPackerFan's picture

April 24, 2019 at 07:37 am

I think Williams would be better off playing more S then CB. But I do like that Williams could play either if needed. It is nice having the versatility especially when injuries hit.

Williams having been in this defense the longest will really help the new guys like Amos and any rookies. Guys like that are invaluable.

0 points
0
0
Handsback's picture

April 24, 2019 at 08:14 am

Tramon has been one heck of a story for Green Bay. When he leaves, a void will exist because there aren't many players that can play multiple positions like him.

1 points
1
0
jeremyjjbrown's picture

April 24, 2019 at 08:24 am

Ideally Tramon won't start at Safety this season but he'll be there ready to plug in in any spot on the secondary. In today's NFL you need guys like that.

1 points
1
0
CoachJV's picture

April 24, 2019 at 01:10 pm

Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, Kevin King, Tony Brown, and Williams is NOT a crowded CB room.

I'm glad he's here because King cannot be depended on. He has 2 seasons, but hasn't even played 16 games total... and he's just injury prone. So he cannot be counted on.

Since we let Breeland go, we are exposed at both Corner and Safety... our secondary is far from being a strength. I hope Gute and Co. have a plan for both positions.

0 points
1
1