Many elite groups from the worlds of sports and entertainment have been forced to change members at some point. Whether it’s a rock band, a television cast or a starting five, lineups change. Sometimes the change is for the better, sometimes it’s for the worse. But it’s very rare when top groups, of any kind, stay together forever.
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In the case of the “Legion of Boom”, they’re technically a secondary. But the concept is the same in this instance as the “LOB” just lost one of its key members, Byron Maxwell, to free agency. His departure was expected, but it stings nonetheless for the Seattle Seahawks.
January 10, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) reacts after free safety Earl Thomas (29) intercepts a pass against the Carolina Panthers during the first half in the 2014 NFC Divisional playoff football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
To fill the void Seattle signed veteran cornerback Cary Williams, a Super Bowl champion who’s started every game over the past three seasons. Williams now pencils in as the starting right cornerback opposite of Richard Sherman.
Ideally, the Seahawks would have liked to stay with the much younger Maxwell and not had to bother shaking up the secondary significantly for the second time. But that’s not the way the modern NFL works. It’s nearly impossible to keep groups together year after year, let alone units and entire rosters.
Given the circumstances Williams is a solid fit in the Seattle secondary and definitely a suitable replacement for Maxwell. The Seahawks made the best of the situation they were in. They replaced Maxwell with an older player, but one still capable of holding up the reputation of the group. Above all else, they did it at a price where it’s low-risk and high-reward.
The 30-year old Williams signed a three-year contract worth up to $18 million, but he’s only guaranteed $3.5 million in base salary and a signing bonus in 2015 according to Spotrac.com. As is the case with many veteran players these days, Williams is in “prove it” situation to stay with his new team for more than one season.
Dec 28, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle (82) catches a pass against Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Cary Williams (26) in the first half during the game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Although he’s not quite the talent Maxwell is, having a veteran guy on your side with Super Bowl experience is usually not a bad thing. Williams is in the same boat as the rest of the remaining “LOB” members – trying to once again hoist the Lombardi Trophy. There’s definitely something to be said for a player who’s won it all and knows what it takes to play into February.
His rocky relationship with the Eagles over the past two seasons may have some fans on the fence about his fit in the locker room, but the Seahawks are pretty good about only signing their type of players. Every now and then a bad fit will slip through the cracks (Percy Harvin), but for the most part it’s the Seahawk way or the highway. It’s also unlikely that any one player could break up the chemistry on the “Legion of Boom” right now.
Williams is indeed on the backside of his career. There’s no doubt his window as an every week starting corner is closing. The good news for the Seahawks is that they’ve likely inked him with enough gas left in the tank for another Super Bowl run. He should be able to hold up the his end of the bargain, at least for next season.
One way or another, it won’t take long to find out if he’s truly Legion-worthy. He’s sure to get lots of action playing opposite of arguably the league’s best corner. Few quarterbacks test Sherman, but you can bet they’ll be testing an aging Cary Williams early and often in 2015.
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