Monday 29 December 2014

The Biggest Overlooked Free Agent of Them All

So before Christmas, we took a look at all nine teams as they headed into the offseason, focusing mainly on free agency. Then we wrote about 10 potential free agents that are flying under the radar. Even after all that, we still failed to mention one potential free agent that might be the biggest of them all. A two-time CFL award winner and one of the most dynamic players to ever step foot on a Canadian football field.

Yep, I am talking about Mr. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named himself:
The name Chris Williams brings about Wullerton-style spitting amongst Tiger-Cat faithful, but there is no denying that Williams was a one-of-a-kind playmaker during his two extraordinary seasons in black and gold.

While Williams spent most of the last year and a half on two NFL rosters – first with the New Orleans Saints and then with the Chicago Bears – he is currently unsigned by any NFL team after being waived by the Bears earlier this month.

Per the settlement reached between the team and Williams, the 2011 Most Outstanding Rookie was allowed to test NFL waters, but the Tiger-Cats retained his CFL rights through the 2014 season. That means, as of February 10, 2015, Williams will be a CFL free agent. Should his NFL dream be over – and it very well may be – he will be available to all nine CFL teams when free agency opens.

We all know what Williams can do, both on offense and on special teams. We also know that Williams will command top dollar should he return to the CFL, and given his acrimonious departure for the Tiger-Cats, I doubt very highly that the 2012 Most Outstanding Special Teams Player will return to Hamilton. That leaves the door open to the other eight clubs to pick up an established player that will immediately upgrade their receiving corps and special teams unit. So if not Hamilton, where might Williams land?

My money would be on Ottawa.

The RedBlacks will be looking to make a significant improvement on their two-win debut season, and have more money to spend thanks to Henry Burris restructuring his contract to free up cap space in 2015, so one would have to think they’d make a serious run at Williams if he decided he wanted to play in the CFL once again.

And speaking of Burris, it was he who was guiding the potent Tiger-Cats offense in 2012 that featured Williams as a No. 1 receiver. Burris had inarguably his best statistical season in 2012, throwing for more yards, touchdowns and completions than he had in any season previous or any season since, and Williams was a big reason why. The diminutive speedster caught 83 passes for 1,298 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012 and was a bona fide MOP candidate with Burris throwing him the football. A reunion could do wonders for both players, but especially Burris, who, for comparison’s sake, threw 11 touchdowns in total in 2014 and looked every bit his age. Adding Williams might allow Burris to slow down the sands of time for at least one season and would add a spark to a RedBlacks offense that desperately needs one.

All of this is predicated on Williams looking to return to the CFL, which is by no means a lock. But if he does decide to return north of the border that he will have no shortage of suitors.

And if I were a betting man, I would bet on him calling Ottawa home.


  1. Great article. Dejardins would be crazy not to pursue him hard. Another name I will throw at you...Kory Sheets (once he gets an injury settlement from Oakland that is)

  2. If the Cats lose Banks I'd go hard after Williams.

    He does everything in the return game plus is a 1000 yard receiver. Pay him what he wants.

    Ottawa is a train wreck. Burris is too old to see the Redblacks be successful under him. The faster Ottawa dumps Burris and goes young at QB, the faster they will contend.

    If Burris leaves after this year it's been a waste of 2 years. You might have some pieces but to be successful you need a very good qb.

    Williams would make Ottawa a better team but how many wins would he be good for? 4/5?

    When Williams was here we were neverore than .500. I don't want to be like Deskardens and saw receivers are a dime a dozen but they don't turn a 2 win team into a playoff contender.