Packers free agent review: RB Jamaal Williams

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Zach Kruse
·4 min read
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The Green Bay Packers are going into the 2021 offseason needing to make decisions on a number of important unrestricted free agents. Over the next few weeks, we’ll review the individual situation for all the major players with expiring contracts.

Next up: Jamaal Williams, the Packers’ versatile fourth-year running back:

Season stats

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Williams continued a remarkably consistent career in 2020, turning 150 total touches into 741 total yards and three touchdowns. Over four years, he's averaged 155 touches, 736 total yards and 4.5 touchdowns per season. This year, Williams finished with 505 rushing yards on 119 carries (4.2 per carry) and 236 receiving yards on 31 catches (7.6 per catch). He didn't fumble for the fourth straight season. He also broke five tackles, caught 88.6 percent of his targets and produced 11 runs of 10 or more yards. Given the opportunity to be the lead back for two games in Weeks 7-8, Williams produced 216 total yards, including over 100 total yards of production in each game. Over two playoff games, he turned 22 touches in 110 total yards and had a 30-yard kickoff return. His 36.1 rushing yards per game in 2020 were a career-high.

Snap counts

AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps

Williams played in 14 of 16 regular season games and both playoff games. He saw action on 418 offensive snaps, or roughly 40 percent of the offense's total overall. He was also on the field for 108 special teams snaps. Including the playoffs, Williams handled at least 50 percent of the offense's snaps in six games. He neared 90 percent of the snaps in games against the Houston Texans and Minnesota Vikings. His season high for snaps was 63, against the Vikings in Week 8. His season low was four, against the Carolina Panthers in Week 15 after departing with a quad injury.

Season review

(AP Photo/Sam Craft)

Once again, Williams proved to be a reliable and versatile secondary option at running back for the Packers offense. Capable in all things asked of the position, Williams was used by the Packers as a runner, receiver, blocker and returner. When Aaron Jones went down in October, Williams stepped in and handled the lead role with little to no issues. He didn't score as many touchdowns in 2020 – just three, compared to the six from 2019 – but the Packers didn't need him to be a scoring machine. He averaged over four yards per carry, caught everything thrown his way and typically got the job done in pass protection. It'd be hard to ask much more from a No. 2 running back. While not a game-changer, Williams is consistent and reliable, with an energetic personality that teammates and coaches love. He looked more explosive at times in 2020, but his game is styled around getting upfield and powering through contact.

Future value to Packers

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Potentially significant, considering the uncertain future of Aaron Jones. If the Packers are unable to keep Jones in Green Bay during free agency, GM Brian Gutekunst could turn to Williams as the much cheaper backup plan, although his power-based style doesn't complement 2020 second-round pick A.J. Dillon quite as well as Jones, the slasher. Williams is loved in the locker room and respected by the coach and quarterback. Versatile, selfless and the type of player any team could use more of, Williams is willing to take on any role, including special teams, and he's one of the game's few backup running backs who can handle carries, make plays in the passing game, block in pass protection and chip in on the third phase. Teaming Jones with Dillon and drafting a player with some slash-and-dash attributes could be an attractive option if Jones departs. If Jones is re-signed, Williams is almost certainly gone. He has value elsewhere, and it's possible he seeks a featured role, but his value is also high in Green Bay, where the Packers have carved him out the perfect role.

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