One of the Colts’ free agent signings that is easiest to overlook is their signing of former Seahawks tight end Brandon Williams.
It’s understandable why that is, since Williams has only started one career game, caught six career passes, and was signed to a minimal contract. He’s spent time with the Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins, and Seattle Seahawks during his career, playing in 45 games, starting one, and catching six passes for 80 yards. He spent 2016 with the Seahawks, playing in all 16 games and starting one while catching two passes for 36 yards.
His biggest impact has come on special teams, and it’s clear that he has been brought in to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster with the Colts, likely as a third tight end and special teams contributor.
To get a better idea of the player the Colts are getting in Brandon Williams, we reached out to Field Gulls’ Kenneth Arthur, who was kind enough to answer some questions for us. Our questions are in bold, and Kenneth’s answers follow.
1. How was Brandon Williams during his tenure with the Seahawks?
Williams' time with the Seahawks was the continuing saga of the NFL's unlikeliest player. Every year he finds something new to overcome. His career at Oregon was cut very short because of concerns of a spinal condition. He was undrafted. He didn't make a team his first year. He was working as a security guard. He made it back through a regional combine tryout. New MRIs showed he was perfectly fine, healthwise. He played with the Panthers and Dolphins. When he came to Seattle, he was obviously an afterthought; the Seahawks had Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson, and had just drafted Nick Vannett in the third round. What team keeps four tight ends? He made it anyway despite Graham being ready to open the season. Part of that may have also been an injury to Vannett, though it wasn't that serious. Williams worked his way over Vannett, but was primarily used on special teams. Now he's looking to play his fifth NFL season with his fourth different team, despite six career catches. That's because Williams has one advantage that few players have: So many professional athletes believe they're entitled because so many coaches and people have told them they should be here, but 99% of what Williams has heard is that he shouldn't. He's got incredible drive, and I would not be surprised to see that carry him to another year as a fan favorite in a new city. Williams also was second on the team in special teams snaps and is considered a great player to have on the third unit of football. He won't hurt you in blocking either. He was doing some nice things with catching the ball in training camp and the preseason, I believe, but he'll have to prove that on the field if he gets more opportunities with the Colts. It wouldn't be the first time a tight end broke out late in his career; I believe he could have a Gary Barnidge-type breakout somewhere in there. We'll see.
2. Why was he not re-signed?
As mentioned, the Seahawks have three tight ends that they're comfortable with, including a star, a day two draft pick from 2016, and Willson, who they re-signed to a one-year deal. This is also one of the best ever tight end classes in the upcoming draft, I think. Re-signing Williams may preclude them from using a draft pick on one. He deserves a bigger opportunity and I think Indy can give that to him.
3. What are his strengths and weaknesses?
His strengths are special teams, locker room presence, working his ass off, positive attitude, and blocking. I don't know if his ability to catch the ball or not is a weakness, it's just an unknown and for someone approaching 30, that might mean that he'll never be a pass-catching tight end.
4. Do you think this is a good fit and a good signing for the Colts?
I think it's a great signing for the Colts. I'll be rooting for him. Indy was fifth in Special Teams DVOA last season, so this signing should only help maintain the Colts top-five ranking in that area of the game. With the loss of Pat McAfee, Indianapolis does have room for improvement on kickoffs and punting. You've done more homework on Jeff Locke than me, obviously, but I'd assume that he's expected to be a downgrade from McAfee. Adding great special teamers like Williams is insurance, I'd think, to those plays. "Let's build around the punter" in the same way you might build around a quarterback. I hope to see Williams get more work on offense.
That’s some great insight on Brandon Williams, so thanks again to Kenneth Arthur for taking the time to answer our questions. And be sure to check out Field Gulls for all things Seahawks.