Bengals’ veteran cut candidates: Shawn Williams
Heading into 2019, the Bengals had what looked like a solid safety duo in Jessie Bates III and Shawn Williams. As the season unfolded, the two struggled. This is in large part due to the defensive struggles of the team as a whole, but Williams’ play was questionable enough that the front office brought in safety Vonn Bell from the New Orleans Saints.
Bell and Bates are expected to be the team’s starting safeties, leaving Williams in a bit of a strange spot. While there is a high likelihood the team could deploy three safeties on a regular basis, it’s too early to know just how much that will happen.
The former Georgia Bulldog spent a considerable amount of snaps as a linebacker in 2019, so there could be a role for him there. But with a revamped group of linebackers in 2020, the Bengals may not need Williams there either.
As it currently stands, it’s hard to see what Williams’ role in the Bengals’ defense is at this point. There isn’t a starting spot at safety, there are too many linebackers for him to see considerable time there, and he makes too much to ride the bench.
If the Bengals have a plan for Williams, they should keep him. However, if they plan on using him in a limited capacity or just don’t have a plan for him at all, they would be better off spending their money elsewhere. With players like William Jackson III and Joe Mixon heading into contract years, it may be smarter to put his money towards extending them than spending it on a safety with no foreseeable role. However, he’s talented enough that the Bengals should try their hardest to find a role for him. Williams’ job security will come down to what Lou Anarumo wants to do with his defense.