The Denver Broncos officially added outside linebacker D.J. Williams to the 53-man roster on Saturday, and the veteran should play on Sunday after missing the first nine games of the 2012 season while serving two suspensions, a six-game ban for violating the league's policy against performance-enhancing drugs and a three-game suspension for an alcohol-related offense.
As reported by Mike Klis of The Denver Post, Williams returns with a reduced salary.
Originally scheduled to earn $5 million in base salary in 2012, Williams' salary was reduced by $100,000 to $4.9 million when the PEDs suspension prevented him from being on the roster on the Wednesday prior to the regular season-opener. Though he was still serving his suspension during last Sunday's 36-14 win over the Carolina Panthers, Williams was paid at the $4.9 million rate ($288,235) as the Broncos had a bye week during his suspension.
When Williams returned to the team on Nov. 12, he agreed to a restructured contract, which Klis originally reported, that reduced his base salary for the remainder of the season to a rate of $1,607,200, which over the final seven weeks of the season, amounts to $661,788. Adding that figure to the $288,235 he made during the last week of his suspension, Williams will earn $950,023 in base salary this season. According to a source with knowledge of the renegotiated contract, the Broncos did provide two paths for Williams to recoup some of his lost earnings this season.
Williams can earn $700,000 in "per game active" roster bonuses, $100,000 per week over the final seven weeks of the season. Because the roster bonuses were included in a contract that was signed after the last preseason game, they are treated like a signing bonus and will be prorated over the 2012 and 2013 seasons ($350,000 per season if all seven roster bonuses are earned). Williams can also earn up to $650,000 in incentives tied primarily to his regular season and post-season playing-time percentages.
Getting playing time may be difficult as Wesley Woodyard has emerged from his role as core special teams player to take over Williams' starting weak side linebacker position. Through nine games, including eight starts, Woodyard has played in over 83 percent of the Broncos' snaps and leads the team with 77 tackles on defense, including a team-high 46 solo tackles. Woodyard is also tied with rookie defensive tackle Derek Wolfe for third on the team with three sacks and is tied with defensive backs Chris Harris and Tony Carter for the team lead with two interceptions. With Woodyard playing and producing at such a high level on a defense that ranks fourth in Football Outsiders' defense DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), it may be hard for John Fox and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to get Williams playing-time in Denver's base defense.