The Green Bay Packers have a number of important questions to answer this off-season but one of the most difficult decisions general manager Ted Thompson and the Packer will have to make is whether to re-sign Tramon Williams or Davon House, two talented cornerbacks that are both heading for free agency at the start of the new league year.
There are pros and cons to each player. Williams has been a Packer since 2007, a full-time starter since 2009 and Green Bay’s top cover guy during its six-year playoff run. House, on the other hand, was a fourth-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and has been a valuable backup ever since. He has started games for Green Bay and played well when healthy, particularly this past season. But has he done enough to prove that he can be a 16-game starter to replace Williams?
That’s the million dollar question….well the multi-million dollar question because it’s going to take some serious cash to re-sign either player.
Based solely on what happened in 2014, it’s easy to say Williams is the better player right now. But how long will that be true? Williams is 31 years old and even though he still had 13 pass breakups and three interceptions this season, he is not the shutdown corner he was in 2010. Make no mistake, he is a very good starter and I predict he will be for another 2-3 years—but in the NFL, especially at cornerback guys lose it fast and that has to be one of Thompson’s considerations.
By the same token, Williams has only missed one game in his career due to injury. House missed three games this season alone. He has played in all 16 games just once and missed almost the entire 2012 season. But with all said, House is a talented, athletic, and physical outside corner that will start somewhere next season, whether it be in Green Bay or a free agent destination. The former New Mexico State standout has earned an opportunity to be on the field as a full-time starter, there is no doubt about that.
“The dream would be to stay here if they want me,” House told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “I know I can start in this league. That’s what I want to do. Start and help my team. It sucks, like against the Seahawks, overtime and I’m not on defense. It hurts. You lose the game and think I could’ve done something and I’m on the sideline. I truly believe my film says it’s time.”
House is no slouch and he’s right, he is good enough to start and the fact that he has posted back-to-back season with double-digit pass deflections despite being a part-time player only proves that point. However, there are more things to consider here.
The truth is that even Williams may grade out slightly ahead of House right now, he is six years older, which means House could actually command more money on the open market. Young, talented, starting caliber corners are not found on the free agent market often and that’s why if the Packer want to keep House they need to act swiftly. Simply put, once he hits the free agency, it’s unlikely he will return because some team will overpay for his services in a bidding war, but I can guarantee you that team won’t be Green Bay.
Williams will also not come cheap. He is going to want somewhere in the range of $5-$7 million per season, possibly even more. And with how we played in 2013 and 2014, who could blame him. But, if the Packers decide to keep him, they should do their best to keep the deal in the 2-3 year range if at all possible. Beyond that, it gets risky.
When push comes to shove, my recommendation would be to try and re-sign House. He’s younger than Williams but in my opinion he is just as good. With House as the starter at one corner spot and Sam Shields opposite him, plus Micah Hyde and Casey Hayward in the slot as well as Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at safety–that’s one helluva secondary.
My thought from day one has been that the Packers would keep either Williams or House—but not both. Therefore, they should make a run at House and if he is unwilling to agree to a new deal before free agency, the Packers should then set their sights on Williams, bring him back on 2-3 year deal—then hope he has a few good years left before he breaks down. Either way, Green Bay already has three solid cornerbacks in Shields (a Pro Bowler), Hyde and Hayward. So, the need to re-sign Williams or House is not one of desperation, which can help give the Packers leverage to ensure they do not overpay for either players’ services.