Philadelphia Eagles Free Agency 2012: Could Mario Williams Be a Target? | Eagles Addict
Mario Williams

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Crazy thought for the day: If Houston defensive end Mario Williams becomes a free agent, would the Philadelphia Eagles go after him?

I’ve been watching the Texans and how they handle the situation with Arian Foster and Mario Williams.  My thinking was that there wouldn’t be any chance that either would hit the free agent market, especially Foster.

However, with LeSean McCoy in town, I could care less about Foster; my eyes are on Williams.  I’ve been enamored with him since he came out of North Carolina State in 2006 and drafted No. 1 over all by Houston.

He’s the type of defensive end I’ve always preferred in that he’s big, powerful, fast, and equally as good against the run as he is against the pass.  I’ve never been a fan of the “fastballs” or “motor midgets” that the Eagles tend to gravitate towards.

Last year, when the Texans switched to a 3-4 defense under Wade Phillips, they moved Williams to the OLB position.  I viewed that as somewhat odd, because he’s big enough to be a 3-4 DE, but OLBs in that defense usually just rush the passer anyway.  However, it made me wonder how Williams would fit in with their new scheme and if he’d eventually become available.

He seemed to be fitting in just fine in notching five sacks in the first five games of 2011.  However, Williams went down with a torn pectoral muscle and landed on injured reserve, ending his 2011 season.

Houston’s first round pick J.J. Watt then stepped up his game and had a terrific rookie season and helped led a rejuvenated Houston defense that played very well despite not having Williams.

So the question remains, will Houston allow “Super Mario” to walk away in free agency?

The news came out today that the Houston Texans have re-signed RB Arian Foster to a multi-year deal.  Then Albert Breer of NFL Network tweeted the following:

Texans were tight to the projected cap as it was. Will be interested to see how the Foster deal is structured. May mean “Bye, bye, Mario.”

After that, Pro Football Talk reported that Houston and Williams are not engaged in serious discussions about a contract.  Here is the key excerpt of PFT’s report:

“With Texans running back Arian Foster now signed to a new five-year deal, the question becomes whether the team will use the franchise tag on linebacker Mario Williams.

Given that the final year of Williams’ rookie deal had a cap number that would push his franchise tender above $22 million, that’s highly unlikely.”

This makes it seem unlikely that Williams will be tagged.  However, it’s still possible that he does, in fact, get tagged or that the two sides could come to an agreement before free agency starts.

However, this is something that is worth keeping an eye on as far as the Eagles are concerned.

Why would the Eagles go after a big-time player at defensive end when they already have Jason Babin and Trent Cole?  Because defensive end is a position that Andy Reid and Howie Roseman place a high value on.

The Eagles love defensive linemen and DEs in particular.  This would be the kind of move the Eagles would pull off that comes completely out of left field, ala Nnamdi Asomugha last year.

Roseman made a comment back in January, after the Giants won the NFC championship game, about New York’s formula for winning.  He stated that their formula was like the Eagles’ in that they believe in strong quarterbacking and a “fierce, relentless pass rush.”

The Giants don’t have any problem having “too many” defensive ends on their roster, nor do the Eagles.  Unfortunately, it always seems that they just have better ones than we do!

Whether or not Mario Williams is a Jim Washburn — wide-nine kind of guy, is a good question.  Like former defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, Washburn likes his ends to be sleeker and faster.

However, a player like Williams doesn’t come around very often.

As a 4-3 defensive end, Williams recorded 48 sacks in his first five years.  He stands 6′ 6″ and weighs 283 lbs.  At his combine, he had a 40-time of 4.66 seconds which shows he does have excellent speed.  Furthermore, he’s still only 27 years old.

Williams has the talent to flourish in any 4-3-schemed defense.  So as far as him not being a fit for Jim Washburn, I’d say that was hogwash.  Hell, he would be just as good as Babin and have the run-stopping skills to go along with it.

Is it a long-shot that Williams becomes a Philadelphia Eagle?  Yes, it is.  But that’s only because the Eagles may have other situations they have to consider first.

Will the Eagles be interested?  They are always interested in defensive linemen!

One thing we’ll have to keep in mind is that, there really isn’t a free agent who is slated to hit the open market that I can foresee the Eagles paying big money to.  The Eagles’ most dire position of need is at middle linebacker, but I just don’t foresee them paying a hefty contract to any of the ones who will be available.

Therefore, if the Eagles want to make a splash in free agency this year, Mario Williams would likely be a top candidate because he would be the best available player at a position the Eagles covet.

The more conventional thinking is that the Eagles will not be looking to make a big splash in free agency this year.  They have to figure out the DeSean Jackson situation, try to re-sign Evan Mathis and a few others as well as consider re-doing LeSean McCoy’s contract.

This means that they will likely stick to mid-level free agents.  Players for depth and/or players who are willing to sign one-year deals for lesser money.

However, you can never be too sure what the Eagles will do.  They’re a team that is usually good for a few surprises every offseason.  Sometimes it’s in the draft, sometimes it’s in free agency and sometimes it’s both.

Of course, this all becomes moot if the Texans slap the franchise tag on Williams today.  And knowing my luck, they’ll announce it right after I post this article.  But if they don’t, I’m going to be watching this situation very closely.

I don’t know about you, but I’d be pretty excited if the Eagles landed Super Mario.  He’s not our No. 1 team need, but he’s a heck of a player and would provide a tremendous boost to our defensive line.

Besides money and the salary cap, there are a few other issues that would come about in signing Williams.  It could be similar to the issue of having three pro bowl caliber CBs on the roster.

Would Williams even want to come to Philly knowing we already have Babin, Cole, and are waiting to see if 2010 first-round pick Brandon Graham can be a contributor?  Would egos get in the way between Williams and Babin (both would play LDE)?  Or would they all look at it as everyone would be in the rotation an get equal chances?

All are fair questions.  But at the end of the day, it’s about winning.  Having Williams, Babin and Cole would make for one scary defensive line.

Just like making a selection in the NFL draft, sometimes it’s about getting the best player available.  In free agency, Mario Williams could be one of the best, if not the best, player available.

 

 


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