On Tuesday morning, the Cincinnati Bengals announced a four-year extension for safety Shawn Williams.
The deal likely makes Williams, who just turned 25 on May 13th, the Bengals' starting safety next to George Iloka this coming season and beyond. Williams was often a starter last year while filling in for Iloka and fellow starter Reggie Nelson at various points throughout the 2015 season. He did well enough that the Bengals feel confident Williams will be just as good in a full-time role.
That also may have helped Cincinnati decide against pushing to re-sign Nelson this offseason, which means Williams will assume his role with Nelson now part of the Oakland Raiders. The fourth-year safety out of Georgia appeared in all 16 games last season, registering 32 tackles and the first two interceptions of his career in four starts.
Williams' most impressive plays last season came against the Steelers. One of which was this hit that was flagged (even though it shouldn't have been) during the Wild Card game.
Shawn Williams https://t.co/hWrWHzV1bb— Bryce Andrew Dixon (@dixonbryce) January 18, 2016
Another was in the first matchup of the 2015 season against the Steelers when Williams secured an unbelievable interception in the final minutes of a low-scoring game that helped the Bengals to win the game and may have been the best defensive play of the season for Cincinnati.
Wow. Shawn Williams with an amazing pick. https://t.co/od7NWuAYYX— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) November 1, 2015
Williams was originally a third-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, though he was mostly a special teams guy his first two years with the Bengals. He's now signed to a five-year contract worth $19.5 million in base salary, and Williams can earn $21.5 million with incentives, per NFL.com. The deal also reportedly has only $4 million in guaranteed money, so the Bengals could cut Williams down the line with little dead money on the line.
But was this the right move? Should the Bengals have re-signed Nelson and focused more on re-signing Williams next year? Or should they have waited either way to re-sign Williams based on how he performs in 2016 now that he's a full-time starter? What do you think about this extension?