Former Tennessee Titans linebacker Avery Williamson has recently come out and said he was “offended” by his reduced role last season while in Nashville. Okay, Avery.
Early in the free agency process, the Tennessee Titans were left with a need at inside linebacker due to incumbent started Avery Williamson not being brought back. The Titans reportedly offered Williamson a four-year, $12 million deal. The New York Jets offered him a three-year, $22.5 million contract. To no one’s surprise, Williamson went to the Jets.
Recently, Williamson has talked a bit about his time in Tennessee and he wasn’t particularly fond of how the 2017 season played out for him. From a story by Manish Mehta.
"“I don’t know, man,” Williamson said about why his playing time was severely cut last season. “It was a weird situation…. Honestly, I don’t know. But they didn’t want me to play certain downs… I was definitely offended by that all last year. Like I said, it wasn’t my decision. Now I’m here and I’m definitely going to get the opportunity. So, I’m glad to be a part of this. It gives me extra fuel to continue to improve my game and become better than I was last year.”"
I can’t speak for the Titans’ coaches last season, but I have a pretty good idea of why Williamson’s playing time was cut. A good guess would be that the coaches were tired of seeing running backs and tight ends dust Williamson in coverage consistently. The likes of C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin doing tons of damage over the middle of the field had to drive defensive coaches insane. Giving up a wide open touchdown to Travis Kelce in the playoffs probably didn’t help the linebacker’s case either.
Williamson never seemed to be in the right position in coverage, and even when he was, he just wasn’t fast and athletic enough to do anything about it. That’s why GM Jon Robinson took Jayon Brown, a linebacker whose craft is dedicated to covering running backs and tight ends, in the fifth round last year.
For a two-down linebacker like Williamson, who was fine in run defense but not a dominant force like PFF might have you believe, second contracts are tricky. Two-down linebackers are increasingly devalued in today’s NFL, so the Titans’ initial offer to him was a price point that they believed was fair. It’s hard to argue considering Williamson’s track record in coverage and inability to create game-changing plays.