The team can lock up Gregory Newsome through 2025 if they exercise his fifth-year option.
Joe Woods’ defense will be in good shape on the outside for the foreseeable future with this pair of cornerbacks.
Three cornerbacks have registered six pass breakups, showcasing depth in the room.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) November 12, 2021
But what does that mean for Greedy Wiliams’ future in Cleveland?
Cleveland traded up to grab Williams in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
He had his moments but underwhelmed as much as the rest of the team in that Freddie Kitchens season.
This pick by @Greedy had the crowd hype!
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 21, 2021
Nerve damage in an injured shoulder cost Williams the entire 2020 season.
But a solid bounce-back last year has many believing the Browns have 3 starting-caliber outside corners.
And that might be one too many as Williams heads into free agency after this season.
Especially if Williams and his agent expect to be paid as a quality starter in the NFL.
Making The Numbers Add Up
Nobody will tell Andrew Berry he can’t afford to sign any particular player.
Ward’s $100.5 million extension told the NFL that Cleveland is still open for business.
And if the Browns want to hold onto Greedy Williams, Berry will find a way.
But the Browns’ top 6 current cornerbacks account for a total of $23 million on their 2022 salary cap.
— Sam Penix (@Sam_Penix) October 11, 2021
And Troy Hill‘s deferred salary and Ward’s 2023 salary alone put the Browns over that number next season.
Details of Ward’s deal are not out, but eventually the whole $100.5 million hits the salary cap.
Along with increased payouts expected at quarterback and wide receiver, cap room is getting tighter.
And if Williams plays as well in 2022 as he did last season, he might price himself out of Cleveland.
The Argument For Retaining Williams
Andrew Berry is on record as saying NFL teams can never have enough quality cornerbacks.
His commitment to Ward only reinforces how he prioritizes the position.
Williams racked up as many passes defensed as Ward last year, with one fewer interception.
Cleveland’s defense did not suffer in the two-games Ward missed with a hamstring and Covid.
#Browns Greedy Williams filled in for the injured Greg Newsome and shined.
He had 6 tackles, a pass deflection and a huge 4th quarter interception. He received an 86.4 PFF grade. 💪🏾 pic.twitter.com/1W8HXz6ldS
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) October 4, 2021
And the injury histories of both Ward and Greg Newsome provide Williams with a legitimate selling point.
Williams took some snaps in the slot last year, and Troy Hill is pushing further into his 30s.
Maybe Greedy Williams offers quality service in the slot and quality backup on the outside.
But he might still need to take a discount to re-sign with Cleveland beyond 2022.
What Can Berry Do?
Andrew Berry’s salary cap genius is undisputed and if he feels the team needs Williams, he’ll make it happen.
But he has options even if Williams proves invaluable to the 2022 Browns.
We could see a clue to Berry’s future plans as early as next week in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Cleveland is not in the best position to draft another stud corner, especially with more pressing needs.
Browns rookie Greedy Williams says Cleveland already feels like home thanks to the “great people” here. Greedy and the other Browns rookies are at camp in Berea on Friday and Saturday. pic.twitter.com/eIrGSq5Dng
— clevelanddotcom (@clevelanddotcom) May 3, 2019
But all 15 of Berry’s previous draft picks remain on the roster, so a cornerback in any round means something.
Williams is a valuable trade chip, too, especially if the Browns expect AJ Green to continue his trajectory.
Berry might find it easier to obtain a first-round pick for a starting corner than he did for a starting quarterback.
Williams’ trade value is as high as it will ever be, and that could push Cleveland to move him sooner than later.