It was a disappointing season for the Cowboys in 2015. As they endured injuries to key players, the team was unable to supplement the contributions of their missing stars. Most notable was the quarterback carousel that took place as the team scrambled to find a viable replacement for Tony Romo after he kept breaking his clavicle. Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore were all given opportunities to throw to the ball to the opponent. The team also had to play without the services of Dez Bryant who missed seven games with an injured foot. The Cowboys relied on Terrance Williams to step up and fill the void. While he posted a career high in targets, receptions, and yards – he wasn’t able to provide the team with the offensive weapon needed from a #1 WR.
And fans took notice.
All his flaws seemed to be on full display last year. Just a week after catching the game-clinching touchdown in Philadelphia, Williams would have a game-ending drop late in the fourth quarter against Atlanta. Every receiver drops passes, but when you have a reputation of hauling in catches with your body, fans are much more willing to let the expletives fly.
And it’s not just his pass-catching technique that has fans up in arms. Williams doesn’t offer up a lot of variety when it comes to his route running repertoire (try saying that three times fast). He’s at his best as an outside receiver and that’s not a bad thing for a WR who has a specific role on the team, but it makes him very ineffective as the team’s number one receiving threat.
But sometimes the hate for TWilly was poured on a little too thick. After all, he’s done some really good things for this team. Williams is a very good sideline receiver and he’s got the tape to prove it. His toe-tapping has been witnessed on multiple occasions, including the catch no Cowboys fan should forget.
Williams also does a good job staying active while the quarterback is scrambling and that has paid off for him numerous times. None more significant than his go-ahead touchdown catch against the Detroit Lions in the playoffs a couple years ago. This is a very good skill to have, especially when your quarterback is known for extending plays. Another important trait of Williams is his blocking ability. He has the size and strength to efficiently assert himself as a physical clog in the running game. And that is an important attribute for a wide receiver who plays for the Dallas Cowboys.
Williams is a better receiver than fans are willing to give him credit for.
@MOdeadhead92 Complaining about TWilly is like complaining about Jessica Alba in a one-piece. Yeah, it could be better, but I'll take it!— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) May 21, 2016
So if you are expecting TWilly to be a number one wide out, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re looking for a great complement number two – he’s your guy.
But it’s possible he might only be your guy for one more season. He is in the last year of his rookie deal. And that’s a problem if the team is hoping to retain him. It’s a problem for a couple reasons. Reason number one – the Cowboys have a lot of money tied up elsewhere. In 2017, Tony Romo’s base salary is $14 million. Dez Bryant’s is $13 M, Tyron Smith $10 M, and Jason Witten $7.4 M. Not only that, but the Cowboys have picked up Travis Frederick’s fifth-year option so add another $8.8 million to the books. And let’s not forget that the team now has another $5 M cap hit for their new running back. That’s a lot of money going to offense. Can the team really afford to hand out any reasonable amount of money to Williams? What type of contract would he demand?
Another reason is his price. To provide a frame of reference, let’s compare him to a free agent that was inked this offseason:
Terrance Williams – 133 catches, 2,197 yards, and 16 touchdowns.
Marvin Jones – 134 catches, 1,729 yards, and 15 touchdowns.
The Detroit Lions gave Jones a five-year, $40 million deal. Now, Williams won’t be getting that kind of offer from Dallas, but it makes you wonder that some other team will value him a lot more. I remember when Alvin Harper broke up a great receiving partnership in Dallas for bigger bucks in Tampa Bay. And then he proceeded to disappear off the face of the earth.
This is a big season for Williams. All signs point to an offensive powerhouse that should be very productive, but there are lot of mouths to feed and Williams isn’t near the front of the line. He will be very motivated and a good season could price him out of Dallas for 2017.
The Cowboys also have another receiver who might be able to fill William’s role at a cheaper price. Brice Butler is an inch taller than Williams which could make him a comparable red zone target. Butler is also faster and could be a good deep threat compliment to the other guys.
So whether or not Terrance Williams is in the mix long-term, the Cowboys have him this season. This should buy them some more time to figure out what they want to do for the future. While some are at peace with letting him walk, replacing him won't come easy. He's a good receiver that brings something to this offense. But for now, let's just enjoy what we have.