The Detroit Lions have a lot of big decisions to make within free agency, and the first call could very well be what to do with running back Jamaal Williams.
Williams is a free agent this offseason, and has enjoyed a solid two years in Detroit with 1,667 yards and 20 touchdowns since signing in the 2021 offseason. With that in mind, it feels like a certainty that he should be signed again by the team.
At this point, though, there are plenty of different ideas for the team as it relates to the offseason, making predictions on such events difficult. ESPN analysts have begun to call their shots for teams across the league, and news could be good for those hoping the team strikes a new deal with Williams.
Analyst Eric Woodyard was asked to make a prediction about what free agent deal could shape the offseason. With a laundry list of options, it could be hard to narrow things down. Still, Woodyard was comfortable going with Williams as his prediction for the biggest decision the Lions have to make.
In the end, that decision could end up being a happy one if Woodyard’s take is to be believed.
“If you ask guys inside the Lions locker room, Williams is the ultimate teammate — even gifting custom robes — who exhibited a nonstop, infectious energy throughout the season. On the field, he is coming off a career-best campaign with a league-leading 17 rushing touchdowns while becoming Detroit’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013. But Williams enters this offseason as an unrestricted free agent at 27 years old, and it seems natural for the Lions’ front office to re-sign him, not only for production but also as a cultural fit for what the team is trying to build,” Woodyard wrote in the piece.
Indeed, given all Williams means to the Lions, it does seem natural as Woodyard writes to bring him back in the fold. If the Lions allowed Williams to walk, they would miss not only his production, but his fantastic leadership off the field and in the locker room.
Detroit will have a big call to make on Williams, but it seems like a good idea for the team to bring him back and keep him around.
Williams Had Major 2022 Season With Lions
There was nobody more productive on the ground this season in terms of touchdowns in the league than Williams, which allowed him to make some NFL history not seen in years and decades.
With two touchdowns against Green Bay in Week 18, Williams set the single-season rushing touchdown record in Detroit with 17 scores, surpassing Hall of Famer Barry Sanders. The dagger score came on third-and-goal in the fourth quarter:
As a whole, Williams has a gaudy slash line this year for Detroit. He rushed for 1,066 yards and 17 touchdowns. Additionally, he managed to put up 73 receiving yards for the team. He was Detroit’s leading rusher on the season, and always dependable.
With a big output over the final handful of games, Williams was able to crack the elusive 1,000 yard mark for Detroit, which was huge for a Lions running back given nobody since Reggie Bush had accomplished that feat since 2013.
All-told, Williams seems to be in a good place as he enters the offseason. He seems to have a comfortable fit in Detroit as he has proven with his on-field work the last few seasons.
Lions Must Keep Williams This Offseason
As the stats show, Williams could be in demand for teams this offseason should Detroit not make a move. If the Lions are thinking about what to do, they shouldn’t ponder the decision too long when the time comes.
Williams, thanks to his ability to be a sledgehammer near the goal line and in the red zone, has earned the right to stay with the Lions. He’s also been one of the best vocal leaders on the team, routinely connecting with his teammates and Detroit as he did after the season finale in Green Bay:
All of this combines to mean that the Lions shouldn’t overthink his free agency and simply bring Williams back when all is said and done.
It’s clear that Williams has been the team MVP for the Lions during the 2022 season. He’s not going anywhere in the short term, and hopefully, the team will decide to keep him around for the long-term as well with a new contract.
Williams does remain the biggest decision the Lions have to make, and soon enough, that could come to a head before free agency begins.