As I mentioned yesterday, and I bet you saw all over the web, the Seattle Seahawks released WR Mike Williams. Williams was the team’s leading receiver, and arguably the team’s MVP back in 2010. That year he had 68 receptions and 751 yards. 2011 was a different story. Despite starting 12 games at receiver, he finished the year with only 18 receptions.
I actually didn’t expect Williams to make the 53 man roster for the start of the season. It wasn’t so much that Williams got cut that was surprising, it was the timing of his release that caught me off guard.
Ane the question remains, why cut him now?
There was no injury settlement, which suggests that Williams was healthy and fully recovered from the leg injury that landed him on IR at the end of last season. There were vague reports that Williams was overweight and out of shape, but those reports were also denied by other reports.
The Seahawks save $3.6 million in cap space with the release of Williams, even though they didn’t need the savings. They are now approximately $11 million under the cap for 2012. While the extra cap room would make signing Chris Clemons to an extension easier, it wasn’t necessary to cut Williams to do so.
My first reaction to the news was that it meant that one of the young players at the position had already passed Williams on the depth chart. If one of the young players is ready to step in, contribute, and provide more than Williams offered, then Williams was expendable. My initial thought was that it was probably Kris Durham that has emerged, but that’s purely speculation at this point. Durham just has the size and hands that Williams has, but also has tremendous speed to go along with it.
I’ve heard it suggested that the acquisition of Kellen Winslow make Mike Williams expendable. I find that logic to be at least partially flawed, since Winslow is a TE and not a receiver. While the Seahawks will likely play more 2 TE sets in 2012, they still need Split End on plays when they don’t (and even on some plays when they do).
Ultimately, the answer likely has to do with speed and durability, two things Williams didn’t have. Williams was constantly banged up. The combination of his lack of speed and durability constantly hurt his production, and also made him ineligible to help out on special teams.
And I guess in the end, if the question wasn’t “if,” but rather “when” was he going to be get cut, it might as well happen now. At least this way the other receivers who might actually have a chance to make the roster will get more opportunities to show what they can do.