After being benched against the San Francisco 49ers, it was inevitable that Cary Williams tenure with the Seattle Seahawks was coming to an end sooner rather than later.
Sooner came on Monday when Seattle decided to release Williams – their top free agent signing of the offseason – after making 10 starts for the team this season. He signed a three-year, $18 million deal with Seattle this offseason with $7 million guaranteed.
“We feel more comfortable with the guys that have been with us,” head coach Pete Carroll said on Monday.
Williams’ struggled to pick up Seattle’s cornerback technique and his tendency to give up deep passes eventually led the Seahawks to sour on him as a starter. Carroll seemed to offer some further explanation in an answer to an unrelated question about the team’s defense.
“You have to stop big plays from happening. You’re not worth a darn on defense if you’re giving up a bunch of explosive plays,” Carroll said. “What are you doing? The whole thing is to slow the thing down and give yourself a chance to stop people. The big plays are so significant in terms of scoring opportunities in terms of drives itself. That’s a major factor.”
A 36-yard pass allowed to tight end Vance McDonald of the 49ers was final straw.
Williams followed tight end Garrett Celek up the inside seam while McDonald veered up the sideline behind linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis. Williams should have been the outside deep defender, leaving Celek to Earl Thomas. Instead, McDonald’s catch was the biggest gain of the game for the 49ers.
Williams was yanked immediately and never regained his job. He was declared inactive for the last two games as DeShawn Shead replaced him in the starting lineup.
“The return of Jeremy (Lane), he’s had a couple games now with us, and the emergence of DeShawn Shead,” Carroll said of the reasoning behind the decision. “(Shead)’s play has really been good. There’s always consideration for special teams and other things that go along with it, but Cary’s a good football player and did some good stuff for us and all that, but our guys kind of came back to us and it gave us the opportunity to go to them.”
Shead had four passes defended in his first start at cornerback against the Pittsburgh Steelers. By comparison, Williams has four passes defended all season.
Seattle doesn’t save any money by releasing Williams (unless he’s claimed on waivers). His 2015 season was fully guaranteed. It just further illustrates the degree of Seattle’s feelings on Williams that they would release a player they will still be paying for the final four weeks of the season.
Williams had 46 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in his tenure with Seattle. The release of Williams leaves the team with an open spot on their 53-man roster.