The Cincinnati Bengals decided to extend Reggie Nelson’s replacement. Shawn Williams was set to be a free agent after the 2016 season, but he is now receiving a four-year deal worth $19.5 mil, which only $4 mil is guaranteed, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
The Bengals used a third-round pick on Williams back in the 2013 NFL Draft and now he is one of their key safeties entering the 2016 season. He has grown tremendously and has the ability to be a consistent playmaker, which is why they extended him. They see lots of potential in the Georgia product. This is the perfect defense to help him progress as he looks to take that next step in his career.
Next, replacing Reggie Nelson will be a tough task. Nelson was one of the top safeties last year and overall, he has been very productive safety since entering the league, but especially joining the Bengals organization back in 2010. I think Williams is on the rise and that he will be fine as he learned behind Nelson and Iloka.
Furthermore, the 25-year-old safety had a career year last season by starting 4 games and recording 28 tackles (22 solos, 6 assisted) with 2 interceptions. He will of course produce bigger numbers as he is expected to see more playing time. Williams is also a reliable by never missing a game in his career. He has played in all 16 games in his first three seasons.
Lastly, Williams graded out as the 43rd best safety in the NFL last season out of 89 qualified players, according to Pro Football Focus.