Per a report from ESPN’s John Clayton, All-Pro defensive end/linebacker Mario Williams is expected to sign with either the Seattle Seahawks or Atlanta Falcons. On “Brock and Salk,” a Seattle-based ESPN sports show, Clayton stated he believes either team would offer Williams upwards of $15 million, making the cap hit unpalatable for other teams looking at a 3-4 outside linebacker.
“If you’re going to be going for Mario Williams, the best value is to put him on the line of scrimmage and have him rush as a 4-3 defensive end. That’s the way the league goes,” Clayton said. “You don’t see $15 million linebackers. … I think that when you look at the value, he’s going to be more valuable to a 4-3 team, and the two 4-3 teams that appear to have either the most money or the most interest are Atlanta and Seattle.”
Williams, who showed his versatility last year converting from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker, is one of the most coveted defensive free agents on the market. Drafted by the Houston Texans number one overall in the 2006 NFL draft, the two-time Pro Bowler/All-Pro has amassed 53 sacks in his tenure with the Texans and is the franchises single-season sack record holder with 14. Injury concerns after a 2010 inflamed hernia and a 2011 torn pectoral muscle have tempered some teams’ interest in Williams, but his versatility still makes him a prize target among teams coveting a force in their pass rush. The Texans declined to franchise their star defensive player, which would have incurred a salary cap hit of over $21 million.