The Arizona Cardinals made an addition to their group of safeties in free agency. On Monday, the team announced it agreed to terms with veteran safety Shawn Williams.
Williams has played eight seasons in the NFL, all with the Cincinnati Bengals. Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph was his position coach in 2014 and 2015.
Williams began his career primarily as a special teams player. He began to get defensive playing time in 2015, his third season, and then was a starting safety from 2016-2019 for Cincinnati. In 2020, his role shifted back to special teams, where he played 305 snaps, 66% of the Bengals’ snaps on special teams.
He had 110 and 114 tackles in 2018-2019, respectively, and five interceptions in 2018 for a league-leading 131 return yards. He has 12 career interceptions.
While Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson are both slated to start at safety, since Thompson struggled all season with an ankle injury, Williams gives Arizona someone with extensive starting experience to fill in if needed, or even compete for the starting job. While Chris Banjo was fine in Thompson’s place last season, Williams gives the Cardinals a higher ceiling of production as well as special teams depth.