Broncos Sign New Cornerback, Could Impact Bryce Callahan Return

Broncos

Getty Cornerback K'Waun Williams waits.

The Denver Broncos have reached a two-year, $7 million deal with free agent cornerback K’Waun Williams, as first reported by Mike Kaye of Pro Football Network and confirmed by Mike Klis of 9News Denver.

 

Williams is coming off a nice playoff run with the San Francisco 49ers. During the postseason, he had 8 combined tackles, 2 quarterback hits, 4 passes defended and an interception.

In the NFC Championship game, Williams also deflected this pass, which led to a Jimmie Ward interception.

The 49ers have primarily utilized Williams in the slot. Last season, he played a total of 828 defensive snaps, and he was lined up in the slot for 700 snaps.

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Williams Is a Consistent Cornerback

Williams was a standout early in his career with the Cleveland Browns. Pro Football Focus named him to their All-Rookie Team in 2014.

He signed with the 49ers in 2017, where he has played a large role over the last five seasons. Williams has played in 65 total games for the 49ers.

For a 5-foot-9 slot cornerback, Williams was utilized as a blitzer surprisingly often. In 14 games last season, Williams was brought on a blitz 28 times, which was tied with linebacker Fred Warner for the team lead.

PFF referred to Williams as a “consistent presence.”

Williams was a consistent presence in a 49ers secondary that was absolutely decimated by injuries in 2021, and while his 63.3 grade was a career-low, he’s still never earned a coverage grade below 60.0. Another one-year flier for the undersized but scrappy Williams probably makes sense.

Williams is the second 49er to join the Broncos this offseason. Defensive tackle D.J. Jones signed a three-year deal with the Broncos last week.

Williams will join a talented secondary in Denver. Rookie cornerback Patrick Surtain II played at an elite level last season. When targeted, he allowed a passer rating of 61.3, which was the 12th-best in the league.

Meanwhile, safety Justin Simmons was named a second-team All-Pro for the second time in his career. He record 80 combined tackles, 5 interceptions, and 1.5 sacks.


What Does This Mean for Bryce Callahan?

General manager George Paton had previously indicated that the Broncos had interest in bringing back cornerback Bryce Callahan.

However, the addition of Williams makes a Callahan return more unlikely. Callahan served as the Broncos’ primary slot cornerback for the last two seasons.

In 2021, he had 29 combined tackles, 4 passes defended and a sack across 11 games. Callahan had a career year in 2020. When targeted, Callahan allowed a passer rating of only 47.8, which was the lowest in the entire NFL.

Callahan is one of the best free-agent cornerbacks still on the board. He should have a robust market.

PFF referred to Callahan as one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the NFL.

Callahan stepped up and played some outside cornerback for Denver in 2020 when he was called on, but that’s not where he’s at his best. Callahan has been one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the NFL, boasting a 96th percentile slot coverage grade since 2017. Brandon Staley’s defense in Los Angeles stands out as a scheme fit for him if the Chargers aren’t planning on re-signing Chris Harris Jr. this offseason.

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