After finishing the guard free agency series, we move on to a position that might be a bit more important for the Arizona Cardinals at this juncture. Although guys like Sam Acho, Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett were able to get to the opposing quarterback enough as individuals, the team still lacks a dominant presence at the other outside linebacker position. O'Brien Schofield didn't show us that he can be the future, Clark Haggans is aging and Joey Porter... well, let's not go there.
So the new series that we will be covering this week will not only include free agent outside linebackers, but free agent pass rushers in general. If it is thought that a defensive end from a 4-3 team would be able to come in and make the transition, then that player may be a viable option.
With that said, who would be better to kickoff the new section than the best free agent pass rusher available and a former defensive end convert himself, Mario Williams of the Houston Texans.
Although Williams was only able to play in five games last season because of an injury, he still was able to show that he can be dominant in a 3-4 scheme in that time span. In just five games, Pro Football Focus notes that he recorded 5 sacks, 2 QB hits and 17 quarterback pressures. He was as consistent as they come as a pass rusher. That was never the concern. The worry was that with the transition, Williams would struggle in coverage. That was not the case.
Although he was not outstanding by any means, Williams still registered a positive grade in pass coverage, according to PFF. He allowed no touchdowns and was only targeted once in the five games.
So we know that Williams would be an exceptional player even in the Cardinals 3-4 base system, so what would be stopping them from calling him at midnight of March 13? Well, it's the money, of course.
Williams is coming off a first overall draft pick rookie deal that paid him $54 million over the past six seasons. At the age of 27, Williams will now be looking for a contract that not only pays him more, but also guarantees him more as well. One comparable contract to look at would be that of DeMarcus Ware's, who signed a seven year extension worth $79 million with $40 million guaranteed in 2009. My guess is that Williams' deal may exceed that.
So should the Cardinals go after Williams? Given the big contracts that they already have on the books (Larry Fitzgerald, Darnell Dockett, Adrian Wilson, Calais Campbell (soon hopefully), etc.) I would have to say no. There is no denying that Williams would be a perfect fit in the desert and would make that defense soar to new heights, but the cost would be just too tremendous to handle.
Keep in mind, much of this depends on if the Texans decide to franchise tag him (which would have to happen today, by the way).
What do you think? Should the Cardinals gamble away their life savings on Mario Williams? Tell us in the comments below and vote in the poll.