Apparently the Packers feel that they can get a player on the first day of the draft that is equal in talent to Williams, or has a better future, though, that is very debatable.
Apparently, the Packers feel that Justin Harrell, Johnny Jolly and Colin Cole can pick up where Williams left off with the Packers, though, that is debatable as well. Jolly is coming off a shoulder injury and may not be ready to practice till training camp, according to general manager Ted Thompson. Harrell had a ho-hum rookie season, and Cole fractured his arm last fall.
When the Packers placed the franchise tag on Williams early last week, they erased any doubt about the interior of their defensive line. Now the Packers erased the $6.3 million franchise tag amount that they were set to pay Williams, but will be leaning on Jolly, Harrell and Cole, and probably a first-day draft pick, to stop the run and rush the passer with veteran Ryan Pickett.
For a team that is expected to contend for a Super Bowl title, trading away a quality defensive lineman like Williams doesn't make a lot of sense, especially with the money that the Packers have under the salary cap. However, as we have all learned in the past three offseasons, we have to put our trust in Thompson. You can bet the ranch that the GM has a plan for this offseason, and maybe part of that plan is obtaining something for Williams before losing him in free agency next season. With three of the top 60 picks, Thompson may also be planning to move up in the first round, or ensure that the Packers get at least three players that they've had their eye on for some time.
In the meantime, Williams no doubt is a happy camper because he likely will receive a multi-year deal from the Browns that will probably triple the guaranteed money that he would have received this season from the Packers.
DT Tommy Kelly signed off on a seven-year, $50.5 million deal with $18 million in guaranteed money Thursday with the Oakland Raiders, and Kelly had 30 tackles and one sack last season. If Kelly got that kind of deal, Williams, who had a career-high 51 tackles last year and 14 sacks over the past two years, will get a bigger deal.
The move is a little surprising, especially since the New York Giants showed the football world how important it is to rush the passer, but free agency has only begun and there is more than six months before the regular season opener, so there will be more moves ahead. All we can do is stay tuned and watch as Thompson and Co. refine the roster.
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.