Since Mike McCarthy’s arrival in Green Bay, the Packers have been nothing short of well-off at the cornerback position. Charles Woodson was a household name since signing as a free agent and was always paired with at least one other standout, whether it be Al Harris or Tramon Williams. Even without Woodson, this year is no different; the roster boasts impressive depth at cornerback entering the first full week of training camp. However, with great depth eventually come big decisions. These decisions start with Tramon Williams, whose stay in Green Bay may not be as long as we once anticipated.
Since being known as one of the league’s premier cornerbacks in 2010, Williams has shown little to warrant a starting position in the NFC North’s best secondary. The former undrafted free agent received a four-year contract extension at the tail end of the 2010 regular season and followed the deal up with three critical interceptions that postseason. But in 2011 Williams was nagged by a shoulder injury and then, at full health, proceeded to turn in an underwhelming performance in 2012. It’s now clear that Williams is far removed from his 2010 self.
With Woodson out of Green Bay, Williams is seen as the veteran leader of the secondary but hasn’t exactly led by example on the playing field lately. With his contract set to expire at the end of the 2014 season, the Packers must decide if Williams has another three to four years of productivity in him. If the answer is no then the benefitting party may be Sam Shields, who is in his contract year and would be eyed as the starter going forward, across from second-year phenom Casey Hayward.
It’s hard to imagine the Packers keeping both Williams and Shields, as both are expensive and the talent behind the two looks promising. The Packers have a known-stud in the interception artist Hayward and also seem to like what they have in third-year cover corner Davon House and rookie Micah Hyde. While it’s true that you can’t have enough cornerbacks in today’s NFL, the budget-sensitive Packers will likely have to choose between the Williams and Shields. With one of the two stars eventually on their way out of Green Bay, the Packers will look to the DBs mentioned above to make a name for themselves on passing downs this season.
Fortunately for the Packers, both Williams and Shields look to be regulars on the perimeter for at least the 2013 season while Hayward occupies the slot. House and veteran Jarret Bush will vie for the playing time in nickel situations while Hyde may get looks at safety. Of course, one injury could change the schematic at cornerback and the Packers know all too well how quickly injuries pile up as the season progresses. In one of the deepest positions on the roster, the Packers have lots to be excited about as battles for playing time pan out.