Where will Jamaal Williams land in free agency?
Most high-end running backs declare that status early in their careers. For Lions running back Jamaal Williams, his best year by far came in his sixth NFL season.
Now, Williams hits free agency for the second time. In 2021, he signed a two-year, $6 million deal with Detroit, making the jump from the Packers. He outperformed the deal in 2023, with more than 1,000 yards rushing and a league-leading 17 rushing touchdowns.
So where will he end up for his seventh NFL season. Over the weekend, Tyler Dunne of GoLongTD.com tweeted that, while the Lions would like to bring him back, the Bills, Bengals, and Jets are each “very interested” in Williams.
The Jets become immediately intriguing, given the potential for a reunion with former Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
In Buffalo, Williams would add punch to a position group that, for whatever reason, hasn’t performed to the level the Bills need.
In Cincinnati, the potential arrival of Williams underscores lingering questions about the future of Joe Mixon.
Wherever Williams goes, he brings a little something above and beyond his skills -- he’s a great personality. He’s naturally funny. He will bring positive attention and energy, as evidenced by his emotional speech to teammates during Hard Knocks in 2022.
It makes plenty of sense for Williams to remain in Detroit, given that the team finally seems to be ascending. It makes plenty of sense for other teams to want him, too. Hopefully, the interest gets him the kind of deal that running backs usually have a hard time getting after six NFL seasons, and as he closes in on turning 28.
With limited touches in his five seasons before 2022, Williams has plenty of tread on the tires. Although the free-agent market is always a challenge for running backs, perhaps Williams will find a way to write a contractual narrative as unique as his on-field narrative has become.