Perennial Pro Bowl safety Roy Williams will be a Dallas Cowboy for life, having signed a five year, $25.2 million extension.
As expected, the Cowboys signed the Pro Bowl safety to an extension, agreeing with Williams on a five-year contract worth $25.2 million that included an $11.1 million signing bonus, considered the largest in league history for a safety. Williams received $5.55 million upon signing and will receive the other half in March.
“I just appreciate the Jones family – Jerry and Stephen – for taking care of me in this deal,” said Williams, who came to training camp entering the final season of his original contract. “I take my hat off to them. They have a big belief in me and they showed that here today.” Williams, the Cowboys’ first-round draft pick in 2002, said he never thought about playing for another team. And now, he said that scenario is even more unlikely. “I am going to be a Cowboy for life,” Williams said. “There’s no doubt about it. I’m staying here.”
That couldn’t make the Cowboys any happier. Owner-general manager Jerry Jones, who announced the deal following Wednesday morning’s practice, said locking up Williams was a top priority not only for the team’s defense, but even from a marketing aspect. “He probably is the second-most visible player we’ve got on this team right now, Terrell (Owens) being the first,” Jones said of Williams. “Roy, through his play, brings leadership and will be one of the main signatures on our defense with how he’s feared throughout the NFL and what he brings in a game. He’s just a physical player and I put him among the top of physical players in the league.”
But beyond his signature big hits, Williams is a much-improved player in all aspects of the game, according to Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells. “Technically, he’s better,” Parcells said. “I think his awareness of the game is better. I think his vision on the field is better. I just think overall he’s a better player – a better working knowledge of what’s going on.”
Not just an understanding of what to do on the field, either. Parcells said Williams has a better grasp of everything it takes to be a successful NFL player. “I think he understands his physical condition a lot more than he did before I first came here,” Parcells said. “He was always bordering on being overweight; now the last couple of years he’s solid at his weight all the time. He’s learned about nutrition and how to take care of himself and do some of the things that are going to help him play longer. “He’s a good kid. He really is. He has a smile on his face all the time and Sunday he tries to win.”
Williams, the eighth overall pick in the 2002 draft, has been a starter for the Cowboys since he arrived. While he played alongside Darren Woodson for two years, Williams came into his own by the 2003 season, when he earned a spot in the Pro Bowl. Since then, Williams has made two more Pro Bowl trips and earned All-Pro honors. Williams has not missed a start in four seasons, owning the longest current starting streak (64 games).
But while Williams insisted money wasn’t a big issue, he did make a couple of references to the financial terms of his contract. He also admitted the bar for his contract was set back in June when Baltimore gave Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed signed a seven-year, $45 million contract. However, Reed’s base salaries jump from $585,000, $595,000 and $605,000 in the first three years to $3.6 million, $6 million and $6.5 million and $7.2 million in the last four years. That means the Ravens likely will have to rework the deal after three or four years, or possibly even release him to prevent paying a $6 million base salary to a safety.
But Williams said he likes his contract even better than Reed’s. “Jerry and them really stepped up and took care of me,” Williams said. “It’s not big numbers like Ed’s, but every year I’ll be beating him, as far as bringing in money. It’s very fair. Every year . . . in year four, I’ll be making more money than Ed. Ed’s deal set the curve but my agent did an excellent job. I’m really happy about it.”
Presuming Williams stays healthy, this is a great deal for both sides. The Cowboys have locked up their defensive leader throughout his prime playing days. And, while the dollar amounts are much smaller than the Ed Reed deal–which is hardly insulting, given that Reed is arguably the better player–the numbers here are legitimate. Unless there’s a reworking down the line for the purposes of an extension or juggling the cap numbers, Williams will actually see the dollars in his contract.
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