The allure of Jammal Williams has found its way to The Big Easy no less than a day after David Montgomery signed with the Detroit Lions. The New Orleans Saints have made it abundantly clear that they want to be contenders in 2023, and the signing of Williams is just another move that emphasizes that. In addition, Alvin Kamara is working through a litany of off-field issues. Could Williams' contract indicate events in the Saints' backfield for 2023?
Keep up with all the offseason movement with our Free Agent Tracker >>>
Jamaal Wiliams and the New Orleans Saints have agreed to a three-year $12 million contract with $8 million fully guaranteed. This deal may reflect the off-field legal issues Alvin Kamara is currently dealing with.
At this point in his career, there should be clarity about what Jamaal Williams offers as a running back. He is the quintessential coach’s early-down running back. While he has shown some ability in the receiving game, it’s not his calling card. Williams is on an offense to keep opposing defenses honest.
See why the big moves matter with our Instant Reactions >>>
In 2022, Williams saw a career-high in rush attempt volume, finishing with the seventh most carries among running backs. However, outside of converting 84% of his carries inside the opponent’s five-yard line into touchdowns, Williams was one the least efficient running backs in the league. Williams is expected to split the backfield with the current Saints' RB1, Alvin Kamara, and serve as the preferred goal-line option.
The public perception of Alvin Kamara as a running back is that, between him and Williams, Kamara is the far superior player. However, Kamara was nearly just as inefficient as Williams in 2022. Both running backs even averaged 4.0 yards per attempt. On top of this, Kamara is dealing with off-field legal issues that have recently escalated to the point where he could miss up to half the season.
The fact that Williams was signed so quickly after David Montgomery took his place in Detroit and that Williams was guaranteed 66% of his contract up front could be a glimpse into what the Saints know about Kamara's legal issues. Suppose, for some reason, Kamara walks away clean from his troubles or returns during the middle of the season after serving his suspension. In that case, Saints head coach Dennis Allen may revert Kamara to the role he succeeded in as a pass catcher. Using Kamara primarily as a receiving threat would introduce more versatility to the Saints' offense.
Williams' certainly created his legacy in Detroit. He even managed to relegate D'Andre Swift to strict backup duties. No one could've seen that coming before the start of 2022. season. David Montgomery is now the top dog in the Detroit Lions running back room, and that should stay the same for a while. Swift's standing and current utilization with the Lions' may be up for debate. Still, unless he convinces the coaching staff in Detroit that he can deliver as they need him to, more of 2022's utilization should be expected for Swift.
Jamaal Williams’s fantasy value hinges on what happens with Alvin Kamara during the offseason. Even if Kamara plays an entire year, Williams may be written off by fantasy managers only to surprise everyone again. Williams is magical in that way. He has the charisma and work ethic that keeps him relevant. If Kamara is the presumed starter to open the 2023 season, Williams can't be considered anything more than a high-end RB3.