Cardinals safety Shawn Williams is one of the few new guys arriving in Arizona after playing for just one team prior to 2021.
Spending all eight years of his career as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, Williams is looking to turn the page.
After starting 57 of his previous 58 games over four seasons, Williams, 29, was removed from the starting lineup in what would be his final year in a Bengals uniform in 2020.
It was definitely not what the safety envisioned his departure from the team that took a chance on him back in 2013 would look like.
“It was hard. It was very difficult with all that I had put into an organization and for things to go the way they went,” Williams said via Zoom on Wednesday. “You just understand it, you don’t forget that it’s a business and things happen sometimes for the better sometimes or for the worst.
“You just worry about controlling what you can control each and every day. You just know that as long as you do that, it’s going to get better. That’s the way that I approached it. I think I stayed very professional with it and I did what I could do.”
Despite how his time ended in Cincinnati, it appears Williams has landed on his feet, reuniting with former Bengals defensive backs coach and current Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. He figures to slide into a backup role behind safeties Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson, while also taking special team snaps. Williams added that he’s not limited in any areas and is confident he can accomplish what’s asked of him.
The rejoining of forces with Joseph is certainly something Williams is happy to have at this point in his career. When Williams was at a crossroads following his third season in Cincinnati, it was Joseph who he leaned heavily on before eventually deciding to re-sign on a four-year deal in 2016.
“Some of the things that he said then were the exact same things that he said when I talked to him before coming here,” Williams said. “He has his way on just knowing what to say to me and we just have a good relationship. It’s unique.”
“All V.J. used to say to me was put your head down and go to work,” Williams added. “That’s all I’ve done my whole career is work. He always said if you do that then everything will work itself out. So that’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to put my head down, work, earn the respect of my teammates, earn respect from coaches, earn respect from this city and just see how far that takes us.”
But Joseph isn’t the only former Bengal walking the halls in Arizona.
Adding to the list of familiar faces for Williams is wide receiver A.J. Green, who was the safety’s teammate for the past eight years in Cincinnati.
It’s an odd coincidence given their track record.
“I actually talked to [former Bengals head coach] Marvin Lewis a couple nights ago and he was just joking. He was like, ‘What’s going on? You followed A.J. to University of Georgia. He leaves and gets drafted by Cincinnati and you follow him there. And then he signs in Arizona and you followed him there. Just seems like you follow A.J. around,’” Williams said.
“I told him I guess that’s the case. I don’t know what it is, but I’m excited to be here, excited to continue to play with A.J. and try to see what we can bring to the table here in Arizona and win some football games.”