Cardinals Sign Ex-Bengals Safety, 61-Career Game Starter

Cardinals sign safety Shawn Williams

Getty Shawn Williams of Cincinnati Bengals looks on during the NFL game between Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams.

The Arizona Cardinals continue to build out their roster with reputable veteran acquisitions and the latest addition to their secondary is no different. On Monday the team announced the signing of safety Shawn Williams to a one-year deal.

Williams, who has spent each of his first eight NFL seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, will now rejoin former teammate A.J. Green in the desert. In other roster news, the team also agreed to a one-year deal to bring back fellow safety and special teamer Chris Banjo.

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Williams Brings Experience to Arizona’s Secondary

A former third-round pick back in 2013, Williams developed into quite the mainstay in the Bengals’ secondary over his near-decade run in Cincinnati. Over his tenure with the team, the University of Georgia product appeared in 119 games with 61 starts. In total, the veteran has collected 424 tackles (305 solo), 3.0 sacks, 14 quarterback hits, 14 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, 12 interceptions, 26 passes defended and one defensive touchdown over his NFL career.

After three years of playing mostly on special teams, Williams finally became a full-time starter in 2015. Over the next four seasons, he would average a highly respectable overall Pro Football Focus grade of 72.6. Williams’ most prolific stint came over a two-year span from 2018 through 2019. After never surpassing 81 total tackles in a single-season, Williams posted 110-plus tackles in each of the two campaigns, including a team-high 114 in 2019. His five interceptions in 2018 also marked a career-high.

Yet, despite his production, Williams was delegated to reserve duties in 2020 as the team shifted towards a youth movement on the backend. After starting 57 of 58 games over the four years prior, Williams failed to log a single start this past season, despite appearing in all 16 games. The Damascus (GA) native played just 86 defensive snaps (8%) on the year, but he did see his special teams usage increase tenfold. Williams played 66% of the team’s special teams snaps, his most since 2014.

Now in Arizona, Williams will join the likes of Charles Washington, Deionte Thompson and the aforementioned Chris Banjo, as they all vied for playing time opposite All-Pro free safety Budda Baker.

Williams is just the latest addition to what is shaping up to be a vastly revamped defense in Arizona. The team previously added three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and former Pro Bowler Malcolm Butler earlier this offseason. They also said goodbye to former shutdown cornerback Patrick Peterson, who signed with the Vikings after 10 years with the Cardinals.

Cards Retain Chris Banjo

With his new one-year deal, Banjo will embark on his third season in Arizona. Undrafted out of SMU back in 2013, the 31-year-old has appeared in 26 games with the Cardinals since 2019, logging a total of 465 special teams snaps. This past season, Banjo was asked to man a larger role on defense, starting a career-high four games. In return, he posted a personal-best 48 tackles (33 solo), one tackle for loss and one pass defended.

An eight-year NFL vet, Banjo has appeared in 102 career games (six starts) spanning across stints with the Cards, Saints and Packers. Over that time, the special teams ace has collected 48 career special teams tackles.


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