Outside linebacker D.J. Williams is a talented player, but his days in Denver may be numbered. Williams twice has been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and failed two drug tests for performance-enhancing drugs.
After Williams’ first arrest. he was fined and stripped of his captaincy, and the most-recent arrest tacked three games onto his six-game suspension according to Lindsay Jones of the Denver Post. The 30-year-old linebacker has shown a pattern of careless, reckless and dangerous behavior and an unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions.
When Williams’ suspension is over on November 12, the Broncos should immediately release the linebacker. Williams has been given multiple chances, and the Broncos and John Elway should no longer feel obliged to give him another one.
Furthermore, the Broncos don’t need Williams, as they are getting good play from Wesley Woodyard and Keith Brooking in his absence.
November 2010—Williams was fined $15,000, benched for a game and lost his captaincy for being arrested on suspicion of driving drunk (via Lindsay Jones, The Denver Post).
June 2012—Williams tweets a photo of his iPad with a page of his playbook clearly visible (via Marc Sessler, NFL.com).
July 2012—It was reported that Williams failed a second drug test after a bottle allegedly fell from his waistband during a urine test that he would then kick into the locker room (via NFL.com).
August 2012—He was convicted of Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) (via CBS 4 Denver).
August 2012—Williams’ lawsuit dismissal was upheld by a federal appeals court (via NFL.com). The lawsuit was against the league and alleged the sample collector violated NFL rules.
One incident is bad enough, but people and organizations are willing to forgive and forget. It’s when behavior becomes a pattern that people and organizations have to draw a line.
The Broncos must draw a line and send Williams to the curb. If the Broncos allow Williams to come back to the team, they will be allowing him to once again get away with his bad behavior and enjoy the privilege of making millions to play a game.
Williams has made a lot of poor decisions in the past two years, but there’s never a bad time to start making good decisions. Good decisions usually don’t lead to DUI arrests and failed drug tests.
Maybe a lot of what has been alleged against Williams is a great tragedy and Williams is the victim. If that’s the case, the Broncos should welcome back Williams with open arms and a starting job and continue to advocate for his innocence.
But because there has been a pattern of poor behavior, it’s unlikely that any great injustice has happened. Had the Broncos been seriously considering bringing Williams back, they would have given him more snaps in the preseason. Now, it would likely take Williams several weeks to learn the defense once he returns.
Woodyard is entrenched as the starter and he’s played better than Williams did last season. In fact, Williams was given a -12.2 grade by Pro Football Focus last season and Woodyard has a grade of 4.4 through four games this season.
The Broncos also picked up Brooking this preseason, and he's played well in a limited role. Williams could return and find that there are no snaps for him. Williams is owed $5 million this season and $6 million next season, according to Rotoworld.com’s salary database.
That’s a lot of money for a linebacker that isn’t a starter.
There are too many factors working against Williams for the Broncos to seriously consider activating him when his suspension ends.
It would be surprising if the Broncos were to activate Williams when his suspension ends on November 12, and it would also be a mistake.