Lions Sign Former Washington Running Back To Roster: Report

Jonathan Williams

Getty Jonathan Williams runs for the Colts.

The Detroit Lions have made another interesting move at running back, and their loaded roster continues to get more deep.

Friday, the Lions signed running back Jonathan Williams to the roster. Williams had previously been with the team in training camp and then on the practice squad, but was released. He now finds his way back to the roster at mid-season in a very interesting way.

A few months back, the Lions released Williams from the squad. Williams had been signed during the late stages of camp, but didn’t make the team’s initial roster but had hung around on the practice squad. After that, he was a free agent once more after Detroit elected to move on and signed wth the Washington Football Team.

A month ago, the team signed Williams. The Lions worked Williams out, liked what they saw, and decided that the time was right ahead of camp to sign the running back to the roster to add to the depth at the position. Running back Wes Hills was waived as part of the swap at the time. When he left, though, Detroit had depth with Kerryon Johnson, D’Andre Swift and Adrian Peterson in the mix. At that point, there were simply no more carries to go around. Apparently, that had changed.

Williams came to Detroit after playing his college football at Arkansas. In the NFL, he’s seen time with the Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts before being released this offseason into free agency. He returns to Detroit now.

Jonathan Williams Stats

Just 26, Williams has plenty of time left in the league and might have just gotten his feet wet toward making a big impact in 2019. Out of his 329 career rushing yards, 235 came late in the 2019 season with the Colts where he was activated and showed out big time. Despite that, the Colts didn’t bring him back for 2020, and Williams sat as a free agent until he was scooped up by the Lions.

Williams’ path to remaining on the roster might be narrow in Detroit considering the running back depth on the roster, but he will be able to give the team some quality snaps in the meantime and serve as depth in the new COVID world, where players could theoretically be lost off the roster at any time with the illness.

Lions Running Back Depth

Detroit’s backfield is deep, with Adrian Peterson and D’Andre Swift combining with Kerryon Johnson to represent the present situation. There’s not a huge need for a runner anymore as there has been in the past, which could change the dynamic for a team like Detroit, who suddenly has depth at the spot. That makes the addition of Williams interesting. Could a trade be on the horizon? It’s more than possible with this move.

Many have speculated that Johnson could get dealt, but he is a relatively new player with the team and still seems to be part of the future. He’s also improved with pass blocking and remains a player who is highly regarded by the staff. For these reasons, a deal doesn’t seem likely. Johnson remains the future without knowing if the team plans to re-sign the 35 year old Peterson this offseason.

Even such, Williams is young and adds some depth to the spot, so it will be interesting to see what happens long term.

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