According to the Washington Post, the Washington Redskins brought free agent Madieu Williams in for a visit today. An offer was reportedly made to the former Maryland Terrapin who left DC without signing and who has another scheduled visit with a suitor on Monday.
The former DuVal High School standout from Lanham spent all of the 2011 season with the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately, Williams’ stats from last year don’t jump off of the page because he spent his time as a 49er behind first-time Pro Bowler Dashon Goldson.
Selected 56th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2004 draft, Williams had an impressive rookie season recording 103 tackles. The budding star then spent three quarters of his sophomore campaign on the sidelines due to injury. Even though he would go on to sign a large six-year deal with the Vikings, injuries would continue to plague him throughout his tenure in Minnesota. Think Malcolm Kelly but with actual on-field production.
But the Redskins’ interest in the free agent presents a number of questions regarding their plans heading into the this month’s draft. Would the team still target a safety in the draft? Was Cedric Griffin brought to DC to play corner or safety? Could the burgundy and gold end up with six safeties to four corners on the roster before April 26th?
While he has numerous ties to the area and could be brought on board without breaking the bank, the ‘Skins seem to be tipping their hand in terms of draft direction. Bringing Williams on board would fill out the roster with Brandon Meriweather, Reed Doughty and DeJon Gomes at the safety position.
At corner, the team would have Josh Wilson, DeAngelo Hall, Brandyn Thompson, Cedric Griffin and Kevin Barnes under contract. The recent signing of Griffin was thought by many as a signal for the DB’s move over to safety. However, if the ‘Skins sign Williams, they could flex Griffin into a safety spot when needed but would get more use out of him at the nickel corner position.
Which pair will be starting at safety come Week 1?
Reed Doughty just signed a three-year deal in August, and Gomes played well in his rookie season, so neither player looks to be on the cutting block. Pursuing Williams this early in free agency doesn’t signal that he is potentially being brought in just to provide competition in training camp like the signings of Willie Parker and Larry Johnson did.
Signing Williams could signal that the team isn’t planning on drafting a safety and is looking at making additions to the defense elsewhere in the draft. With Griffin and Barnes both becoming free agents after this year, the team could easily bring in a mid-rounder at DB who could take either of their spots in 2013.
If Williams is brought on board, I would anticipate more pressure being put on the front office to sign London Fletcher. Signing more established veterans on the defense shows the team is looking to compete immediately with, presumably, Robert Griffin III under center. Fletcher needs to anchor down the middle of the defense so that Perry Riley can properly develop in his first full season at starter.
Without Fletcher on the roster and Williams in camp competing for the starting role at free safety, look for the Redskins to spend their early post-RGIII picks on an inside linebacker, if not two, and a cornerback. Currently the team has only one ILB under contract.
In this scenario, I don’t see Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen drafting anyone else early along the offensive side of the ball. This year’s free agency included a number of great potential upgrades along the offensive line. But it appears that Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen think the O-line, when healthy, is good enough to compete in the NFC East as is.
For more by Scott and his cohorts, check out The Recap.