Normally, when teams begin thinking about the offseason, they ponder what players they can sign from outside of the family.
The Detroit Lions will no doubt consider that in plenty of cases this offseason, but in terms of the offense, they need only look from within to find their perfect fit for the roster.
Pro Football Focus and writer Brad Spielberger took a look at naming the top offensive free agents that each team should look at pursuing. Detroit doesn’t have to look further than their own backfield according to Speilberger and running back Jamaal Williams.
As Spielberger wrote, the Lions should simply bring Williams back in the fray given everything he does statistically and otherwise for the roster. Moreover, he’s just a great player, as well.
“Williams is the heart and soul of this Lions offense, breaking Detroit legend Barry Sanders’ franchise record with 17 rushing touchdowns in 2022, capped off with two goal-line scores to knock his former team, the Green Bay Packers, out of the playoffs. Over the past three seasons, Williams’ 80.3 rushing grade ranks 23rd and his 25.5% rate of carries going for a first down or touchdown ranks seventh. He’s a reliable short-yardage back who brings positive vibes to the building every single day,” Speilberger said in the piece.
Not only with his play but with his enthusiasm, Williams is a vital member of the team. For this reason, he could be the team’s top priority when all is said and done this offseason in terms of a re-signing from the roster.
That’s a decision that Spielberger and PFF would no doubt agree with if and when it eventually plays out this offseason.
Williams Enjoyed Historical 2022 Season
There’s been nobody more productive on the ground this season in terms of touchdowns in the league than Williams, which has 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 2014.
Why Lions Should Re-Sign Williams This Offseason
As the stats show, Williams will be in demand for teams this offseason. If the Lions are thinking about what to do, they need not 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.
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.
This piece only serves to prove how much Williams could be targeted this offseason. As one of the heartbeats of the team, the Lions must keep him.