Falcons Urged to Cut Super Bowl Winner

Damien Williams

Getty The Falcons have been urged to cut a player with Super Bowl experience.

There isn’t an over-abundance of championship-level experience on the Atlanta Falcons’ roster. Nose tackle Grady Jarrett, inside linebacker Deion Jones and left tackle Jake Matthews represented the franchise in Super Bowl LI, but this is now a roster locked firmly in rebuild mode.

General manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith are building the transition around a foundation of young talent and discarded veterans with a point to prove. Players like rookie wide receiver Drake London, second-year star Kyle Pitts and castoff quarterback Marcus Mariota.

A hotchpotch group like this needs some proven winners, yet one writer believes the Falcons should ditch a Super Bowl winner vying for snaps at a key position. This experienced and versatile weapon is part of a crowded rotation and could stall the development of a promising draft pick.

Title-Winning RB Tipped to Be Released

In a list of “one player each NFL team should cut before the 2022 season,” Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton named Damien Williams the man the Falcons should jettison. Wharton cited the cost-effectiveness of saying goodbye to a running back the Falcons only signed back in March: “Cutting him would save them $1.1 million.”

It’s a healthy amount of cash to recoup, but Wharton also thinks Williams should be removed from blocking the path of younger players at his position. Those more youthful options include converted defensive back Avery Williams and this year’s fifth-round pick Tyler Allgeier: “Giving Allgeier more opportunities to develop should be a bigger priority over saving face with a player signed a few months ago to a cheap contract.”

Taking a flier on a one-year deal for Williams looked like a low-risk move, but the yield is potentially bigger. Williams is one of many former Chicago Bears signed by the Falcons since Ryan Pace joined Fontenot in the personnel office, yet before his stint in the NFC North, Williams established himself as a useful playmaker for the Kansas City Chiefs.

His finest moment came in Super Bowl LIV following the 2019 season, when Williams scored two touchdowns to help beat the San Francisco 49ers. Williams’ second score clinched the Lombardi Trophy for the Chiefs:

Plays like this are evidence for why Williams can keep his place on the Falcons’ roster, despite the depth of competition in the backfield.

Running Back a Position of Strength

It’s no overstatement to suggest running back might be the deepest, strongest position on the Falcons’ roster. Aside from Williams, the rotation is led by dual-threat specialist Cordarrelle Patterson.

He’s joined by rookie Allgeier, who rushed for 1,601 yards and 23 touchdowns for BYU last season. There’s also Qadree Ollison, who sees himself as perfect for the power-based ground attack Smith favors, according to Falcons Features Reporter Ashton Edmunds: “Even when (Arthur Smith) came here, that’s the identity that he wanted to bring to Atlanta. CP is a big back, but he can catch out the backfield. I’m a bigger back and feel like I can do everything as well. We’re all versatile and that’s what makes it a really good room.”

Ollison, all 6’1″ and 232 pounds of him, showed off his power on five carries for 33 yards during the 27-23 preseason win over the Detroit Lions on Friday, August 12. As Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus pointed out, it was Ollison and Williams who split the early snaps in Detroit:

While it appears as though the Falcons have a plethora of options besides Williams, the latter could still emerge as the go-to back. His best chance comes from his scheme fit for what the Falcons’ offense may look like with either Mariota or third-round pick Desmond Ridder playing quarterback.

Both are mobile signal-callers, equally adept at gashing defenses with their legs. Using those skills will demand Smith and offensive coordinator Dave Ragone include some read-option and pistol looks in the playbooks.

Williams operated in those formations with the Chiefs. He also featured heavily in the same set when the Falcons kicked off preseason, per Predominantly Orange contributor Robby:

Having Williams help the Falcons adjust to a scheme he already knows makes sense for a team looking to accelerate its transition. So Fontenot should think twice before severing ties with a runner this valuable, versatile and experienced.

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