Once again, the Cowboys find themselves with over 20 players who have expiring contracts. But still, there’s a large percentage of players on the roster already in place. Over the next few weeks, the staff writers will evaluate those players under contract, reviewing their past performances with an outlook to the future. Today, we’ll continue the series with defensive end Sam Williams.
What Worked: The Cowboys took Williams with their second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft out of Ole Miss with high hopes, and it was easy to see why in flashes. Williams played 15 games and recorded four sacks, 19 tackles, seven TFLs, three fumble recoveries, as well as a pass deflection and forced fumble of his own. All of that added up to a fifth-place finish for the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year despite playing on a crowded defensive front that featured plenty of other pass rushers.
Needs Some Work: Getting Williams involved more will undoubtedly be a goal of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in 2023 given that he played in just 273 snaps due to the likes of DeMarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong, Dante Fowler and more ahead of him on the depth chart. Williams aggressive play style is certainly what enticed the Cowboys to select him in the first place, but also led to him drawing a couple of unnecessary roughness calls throughout the year.
His Best Work: Williams had plenty of highlights to choose from during his limited playing time last season, including his three fumble recoveries, but we’ll point to his ability to get to the quarterback and find the ball. Against the Lions in Week 7 Williams recorded his first two career sacks against Jared Goff, the second of which resulted in a fumble recovered by Williams, along with multiple TFLs.
Contract Considerations: A base salary of $987,921 and signing bonus of $426,682 will be due to Williams this upcoming season, though the former will balloon to $1.3 million and $1.6 million the following two seasons. In 2023 however, Williams will hold a cap hit of $2.3 million.
What’s Next: Cowboys’ fans will likely see more of Williams come next fall after his strong rookie showing. He’ll be alongside essentially the same group upfront defensively that was one of the best in the league at getting to the quarterback and applying pressure, some of which was attributed to Williams. Building off last season’s success will go a long way in maintaining the Cowboys’ status as one of the premier pass rushing teams in the league.