Corey Williams wants to be back in 2013; Detroit Lions should want him back, too

Posted Jan 10, 2013

Veteran Corey Williams has been a key piece to the Detroit Lions' puzzle since he was traded for in March of 2010. Now, as an unrestricted free agent, Williams would love to re-sign to maintain what is probably the best defensive tackle group in the NFL.

Corey Williams has been a vital part of the defensive line since the Detroit Lions traded for him in March of 2010. The veteran defensive tackle was a mainstay on the defensive front along with Ndamukong Suh in 2010 and 2011, starting 31 of 32 games.

It was a little different story in 2012, though. A right knee injury limited him to just seven games (five starts) and ultimately put him on injured reserve. The seven games are the fewest Williams has played in a single season in his NFL career.

Williams is one of 22 unrestricted free agents currently on the Lions' roster.

"Corey played one of the best games we've had from a defensive tackle in that opener against the Rams," Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. "After that it was very, very difficult to manage his knee. You know, it looked like it needed rest. We weren't able to get it rest."

In that season-opening victory over the Rams, Williams recorded five tackles, one sack, a quarterback hit and forced a fumble in the Lions' come-from-behind win.

The knee troubles began a short time later and surgery soon followed in late September. Unfortunately, he aggravated the knee once he got back and it lingered all season.

"My main focus right now is to get my knee healthy and we'll see what happens after that," Williams said after the season regarding his injury and pending free agency.

The problem the Lions face – which is a good problem to have – is that Ndamukong Suh and 2011 first-round pick Nick Fairley are the future at the position. Fairley emerged as a dominant force this season, with 5.5 sacks in just 13 games and seven starts. He and Suh might form the best defensive tackle tandem in the league.

So, where does that leave Corey Williams?

The Lions like sending wave-after-wave of players into the game along their defensive front to keep guys fresh. Along with Williams and fellow unrestricted free agent defensive tackle Sammie Hill, the Lions have probably the deepest defensive tackle unit in all of football.

That's something they'd like to maintain in 2013, but it'll probably have to be for the right price when it comes to Williams and Hill. Williams made $4.9 million in 2012 and the Lions might be looking to lower that number to help address other needs and to re-sign Hill.

"I don't really look at it like that," Williams said. "I'm a veteran player and whatever is best for the team. Whether I'm a starter or not or whether I'm rotating in. Whatever it is will be cool with me. I'm not big on all that."

That's where Williams' true value lies. He's a consummate professional - and besides what he's meant for the Lions on the field over the last three seasons - he's meant even more in the locker room.

There are a lot of egos and a lot of money tied into that defensive line room, but Williams garners the respect of everyone in there.

The Lions will ultimately have to make a decision that best fits the team, but if Williams is willing to come back, and the Lions can make it work under the cap, it makes complete sense for both parties.

"Oh yeah, definitely," Williams said when asked if there was good football left in him. "I ain't going anywhere. I'm going to be around for a long time. I'm going to be around for awhile.

"I would love to be here. We have a great group of guys on this team that are steadily growing each year. We're just a few plays away. I love playing with these boys and I'll go to war with them any day."