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Detroit Lions

Lions Should Not Let This Record Holder Walk

Jamaal Williams was huge for the Lions during the 2022 season. It seems a no-brainer to re-sign him for next season, but how much can a team afford to pay a running back who is 27 years old?

Lions

Lions’ workhorse running back, Jamaal Williams, will be an unrestricted free agent in 2023, and they should make sure he stays in Detroit. Durability and consistency are huge for all teams, and he is the perfect balance with big-play threat, D’Andre Swift.

Record-setting Lions’ Running Back

As a Vikings fan growing up in the ’90s, I witnessed plenty of the greatness of Lions-great Barry Sanders. He was impossible to tackle, made defenders look silly on countless occasions, and up until this season, he also held the franchise record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 16.

That record was topped this year by durable Lions’ RB Jamaal Williams. Williams led the league with 17 rushing touchdowns and finished just one TD behind Austin Ekeler for the league lead in total touchdowns (18). He was money in the red zone this year and was a consistent playmaker for a team that needed it due to D’Andre Swift constantly battling injuries.

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Unrestricted In 2023

Jamaal Williams will hit the open market this season, and will likely command a higher price tag that what he gets paid currently. The good news is that Williams seems very happy on the Lions, and should be on board to talk extension in Detroit.

However, that doesn’t mean it is a given he remains with the Lions. Even though NFL running backs in their late ’20s do not command as much in the modern NFL, a player with Williams’ durability and production could still be coveted by a multitude of teams, and there are some teams that have a lot of cap space to work with. The Lions rank 11th in cap space heading into the 2023 season, which means there are plenty of teams with the space to overpay if they like Williams as a complementary backfield piece.

Pure Speculation: Which Teams Would Benefit From Adding Williams?

If the Lions are to be outbid and Williams chooses a route with more money, here are a few teams that seem like logical fits in terms of having the cap space and potential need for Williams’ services. This is pure speculation, of course, but that’s what the offseason is for, right?

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  1. Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders declined Josh Jacobs’ fifth-year option, and my guess is that he will command a larger contract than they want to pay. They drafted Zamir White last season and could complement his youth nicely with a proven veteran like Jamaal Williams.
  2. Atlanta Falcons. Another team with a young, up-and-coming running back in Tyler Allgeier, the Falcons have also been relying on Cordarrelle Patterson, who is north of 30 years old. I can see them wanting to add a durable back like Jamaal to help that young offense grow.
  3. New York Giants. This one is a stretch even for this list (which seems a like a big stretch in and of itself), but Saquon Barkley is in the final year of his rookie deal. The Giants have the cap space to sign him, but there could still be an offseason of goofiness surrounding Saquon. He is one of the best RBs in the game but he also has an injury history a mile long. I can see the Giants signing him, tagging him, or letting him walk, and in all of those situations, Jamaal Williams would fit. Behind Barkley right now is not a lot for opposing defenses to be scared of, but if they move on, they’ll want at least some RB experience to start the season. So, who knows? But, weirder things have happened.

Speculating Was Fun, But I Think Jamaal Is Still A Lion

I enjoyed diving into the RB free agent market for a bit, but in all honesty I think Jamaal Williams will resign with the Lions. His locker room presence is great, and I truly believe the team loves playing for Dan Campbell.

They were knocking on the door to the playoffs this season, and will be in contention for the NFC North crown in 2023. I think they run it back with Williams and Swift, and focus on the draft to shore up some holes on defense. As long as Williams is not offered a crazy overpay from another team, I would expect he re-signs.

One Last Thought

Regardless of where he plays next season, Jamaal Williams is a player I will root for. As a Vikings fan personally, I would rather he play in another division, but I will always have respect for what he is about. He is a player that makes you forget about how this league is a business, and he deserves at least a slight overpay with his next contract.

After watching his post-game interview after the Week 18 win over the Packers, it was confirmed for me that he plays for the right reasons. He will earn every bit of his next contract, and I think he’ll want that to be with the Lions so that he gets a crack at the playoffs next season. For now, we will wait and continue to speculate, and if you like the speculation, be sure to stay on Stadium Rant throughout the NFL offseason. Feel free to also interact with me on Twitter if anything here has sparked discussion, cheers!

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Written By

I am a lifelong Vikings fan who ascribes to the maddening cliche, "There's always next year." As an eternal optimist I fully expect the Vikings to win the Super Bowl each and every year, so that should give you some understanding as to the level of my delusion. This delusion may, at times, sneak into my articles. If that's bothersome, my apologies. I am also a passionate husband, father, and teacher, and I enjoy writing about the Vikings for Stadium Rant!

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