LB D.J. Williams Joins Former Denver Broncos Cutler, Marshall in Chicago

Jon HeathContributor IMarch 22, 2013

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 11:  Quarterback Caleb Hanie #12 of the Chicago Bears is tackled by linebacker D.J. Williams #55 of the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 11, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Brocnos defeated the Bears 13-10 in overtime.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Yet another former Denver Bronco has landed with the Chicago Bears.

Linebacker D.J. Williams was released by the Broncos several weeks ago after reoccurring DUI, DWI and PED suspensions tainted his standing with Denver's front office.  On Friday, Williams signed with Chicago.

The news was first reported by the Chicago Tribune's Dan Pompei. According to the Denver Post's Mike Klis, Williams is expected to compete to replace Brian Urlacher as Chicago's middle linebacker.

Williams (6'1", 242 pounds) is 30 years old and has played both outside and inside linebacker positions in Denver since being drafted by the team in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft.  With 824 career tackles and 20.5 sacks, Williams has a solid football resume, but his off-the-field troubles ultimately led to his departure from Denver.

Not to mention his contract.

Williams was suspended for all but seven games last season and counted for over $3 million against the Broncos' salary cap.  Due a $6 million base salary in 2013, Williams was cut loose after recording just 14 tackles last season.

In Chicago, Williams has a one-year salary worth $900,000, with the possibility of earning more based on incentives—considerably less than what Denver was paying him.

As Klis points out, Williams is the third notable former Bronco since 2008 to leave Denver disgruntled and land in Chicago, joining quarterback Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall.  Both Cutler and Marshall clashed with former head coach Josh McDaniels and were traded out of Denver, eventually reunited in Chicago last season.

Cutler and Marshall connected 118 times for 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012, a career-high for the duo.  Williams will be looking to return to 2007 form, when he totaled a career-high 141 tackles.

All three former Broncos will provide experience and added skill to the Bears' team, but will be anything but missed in Denver.

Under quarterback Peyton Manning, the Broncos went 13-3 last season while their offense ranked in the top five in every major statistical category.  After Wes Welker joined the team as a free agent, Denver's offense has three receivers (Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker) who posted 1,000-yard seasons in 2012.

On the defensive side of the ball, Von Miller and Wesley Woodyard have filled the void created by Williams' absence, as both turned in career years in 2012.  Miller has earned Pro Bowl selections in consecutive seasons and Woodyard is on the verge of earning All-Star recognition (something Williams was never able to accomplish in Denver).

D.J. is a talented athlete, so he figures to still have something left to offer for the Bears defense.  Just don't let Cuter get you caught up in bad habits, Williams.