Slowly but surely, the top five picks in the 2005 draft are finding work. The latest was the last of the first five players taken; via multiple reports (including one from Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and one from Howard Balzer of the Sports Xchange and 101sports.com), running back Cadillac Williams has agreed to terms with the Rams.
Terms aren’t yet reported, but there’s a good chance Williams signed a one-year deal.
Williams, who has twice recovered from ruptured patellar tendons (one in each leg), will be the primary backup to Steven Jackson. Williams rushed for 1,178 yards as a rookie, but he has not cracked four digits since then.
Given that pre-2011 first-round contracts usually covered at least five years, and in light of the rules of the uncapped year of 2010, which prevented players with fewer than six accrued seasons from becoming unrestricted free agents, many of the first-rounders from 2005 have just gotten their first crack at free agency.
First overall pick Alex Smith, a quarterback widely regarded as a bust, has signed a one-year deal to remain with the team that drafted him, the 49ers. Over the weekend, tailback and fourth overall pick Cedric Benson signed a one-year deal with the Bengals, who gave him a home after the team that drafted him — the Bears — bounced Benson in 2008. On Tuesday, second overall pick Ronnie Brown agreed to a deal that could make him the Dream Team’s Wildcat quarterback, along with a backup to running back LeSean McCoy.
Brown and Williams were teammates at Auburn.
The lone unsigned pick among the top five from 2005 is receiver Braylon Edwards, who like the rest of the top five seems destined to sign a one-year deal. (If he’s not thrown in jail first.)
The rest of round one from 2005 includes multiple other players who have signed free-agent deals after the softening of the market, including cornerback Carlos Rogers with the 49ers (No. 9 overall), Alex Barron with the Saints (No. 19), and Fabian Washington with the Saints (No. 23). Rogers and Washington signed one-year deals; Barron’s terms have not yet been reported.
Members of the 2005 first round to sign multi-year deals in recent days include tackle Jammal Brown (No. 13), who re-upped for five years with the Redskins, who had acquired him in a trade with the Saints, linebacker Thomas Davis (No. 14), and new Bears center Chris Spencer (No. 23).
Once regarded as a horrible class of first-rounders, thanks to the struggles of Alex Smith, the travails of Pacman Jones (No. 6), and the three years in which Aaron Rodgers (No. 24) was parked on the bench in Green Bay, the first 32 men taken in 2005 have acquitted themselves well six seasons later, with a Super Bowl MVP in Rodgers, an elite defensive player in DeMarcus Ware (No. 11), a solid linebacker in Derrick Johnson (No. 15), a high-end wideout in Roddy White (No. 27), an out-of-the-league-bust-turned-decent receiver in Mike Williams (No. 10), an underrated quarterback in Jason Campbell (No. 25), a productive tight end in Heath Miller (No. 30), and a cornerstone offensive lineman in Logan Mankins (No. 32).
Of course, the 2005 first round still gave us Troy Williamson (No. 7) and Matt Jones (No. 21).