I don’t even know what to think when I watched Terrance Williams face-plant himself off an electric bicycle. It felt like I was watching Johnny Knoxville on an episode of Jackass. The events of Williams’ wild night are unclear. Maybe he was driving, maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he hit a light pole, maybe he didn’t. Williams himself professed his innocence to some of the claims made against him and was even shown on tape implicating former Baylor teammate and now Minnesota Vikings receiver, Kendall Wright, as the one responsible for crashing his Lamborghini. All of this has created quite the mess for the Cowboys receiver and some fans are ready to see him sent packing. But is that really the right thing to do? Let’s examine.
Last offseason, Williams signed a four-year, $17 million deal. It looked like a team-friendly deal as several other free agents were signing for ridiculous money. Part of the appeal of the deal for Williams was that it came with $9.5 million guaranteed, $3.5 M of which included his 2018 base salary. On the surface, it makes absolutely no sense to cut him loose. He’s already on the books and there is no financial gain, so why are we even talking about it?
The only way the Cowboys would consider making a move like this is if they desperately needed a roster spot to where they’d be better with a bottom roster guy instead of Williams. We get on TDub for being a body catcher and his failure to go out of bounds, but he’s not that bad, right? Is he not even good enough to be a WR#5? That would be a hard sell as Williams has enough talent to be roster worthy.
Williams contract appears to make him a lock for the roster, but after seeing some of the decisions this team has made in recent years - I’m not sure such a thing exists. Williams situation draws a eerie similarity to a player who was released early in the season last year. Nolan Carroll was signed in free agency last season, but his stay in Dallas was short-lived. A month into the season and after only playing two games for the Cowboys, the team released him, taking a $4 million dead money hit. Not only was it a surprise because of the financial logistics, but it caught some off guard because the team’s cornerback situation was a little shaky. After several veterans departed, the coaches were now counting on a couple rookies to step up. And let’s not forget that this time last year, Carroll was arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
Could Terrance Williams suffer the same fate as Nolan Carroll did last year? The similarities are uncanny...— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) May 25, 2018
Arrested for suspicion of drunk driving in May
Position group revamped with rookies
Contract situation made him look safe pic.twitter.com/5rQ5OivNhr
There could be a number of factors that played in to the reason Carroll was released. Maybe he wasn’t doing what was expected on the field? Rookies or not, maybe the coaching staff liked what they had and no longer had a need for him? Or maybe incidents like this doesn’t sit well with the Cowboys organization after Jerry Brown was killed when Josh Brent crashed under the influence? It’s tough to say what the driving force was behind Carroll’s release, but what we do know is that the Cowboys didn’t let his contract force their hand.
Williams is definitely not safe. And when you also factor in the possibility that a potential suspension could create a forfeitable breach of contact and give the Cowboys an out regarding his guaranteed money, the financial element becomes even less stable for him.
There are still a couple things that work in Williams favor. First off, this is the first bad mark against him as it pertains to his character. Williams has been a first-rate person within the locker room. He’s well respected with the coaching staff and does what is asked of him. There is absolutely no reason to believe that this could be a trend with him. People are fallible and this incident alone shouldn’t be enough to push him out the door.
The one thing that could push him out, however, is if he’s passed up on the roster. With new additions like Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, Tavon Austin, Cedrick Wilson, and Deonte Thompons - this group is competitive. Fans frustrated with Williams might be wondering why we are even debating this; just get rid of him. But as appealing as these new players are, I don’t see enough talent to where Williams isn’t at least good enough to round out the depth chart. But I thought the same thing about Carroll last year and the Cowboys decided to take their chances with Bene Benwikere over Carroll.
The best move is to just see how things play out. There is still too much uncertainty with the WR group to be making haste decisions. What if Allen Hurns can’t stay healthy? What if the rookie receivers play like rookie receivers? What if Tavon Austin has the same underachieving production he had with the Rams? There are too many questions and the team would be better served to let some football stuff happen before making a decision. For now, Williams should get a second chance, but with as much competition this team has created on this roster - he better not slip up again.