Dallas Cowboys: Connor Williams may be too good to stay in Dallas

Connor Williams #52 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Connor Williams #52 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

What if I told you the Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman that everyone loves to hate, is actually too good for us? Because that’s likely to be the case with fourth year left guard, Connor Williams.

Entering the last year on his rookie deal, Williams is set to hit free agency after this season. The former left tackle out of Texas has never really “felt the love” in Cowboys Nation and is quite likely playing his last season in Dallas. Not because Dallas wants to upgrade. But rather because Connor Williams is too good for the Cowboys to afford.

Now, this may sound absurd to a large faction of the Dallas fanbase. For years, Williams has been the soft spot in an otherwise robust offensive line unit. How could he suddenly be too good for Dallas?

Connor Williams is one of the best guards in football and chances are the Dallas Cowboys will not be able to afford him

Here’s the thing – Connor Williams is actually good. Really good. He’s not Zack Martin dominant but he’s truly one of the best young talents in the NFL these days. While we’ve nitpicked his every mistake, expecting perfection and ignoring reality, he’s developed into one of the best young guards in the game.

On most teams , Connor Williams would be celebrated as the best interior lineman on their roster. On the Cowboys, fans are trying to push him out of town.

So why are Dallas Cowboys fans absolutely convinced he’s not good?  That’s a question in which I don’t have an answer. Maybe it was his slow start as a rookie that some can’t seem to get out of their minds. Maybe it’s one bad play here or there that we can’t seem to shake. Or perhaps it’s just unrealistic expectations set by future Hall of Famers Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Travis Frederick.

Whatever the reason, the criticism is ill-founded because Connor Williams is an asset who’s going to be hard to keep around beyond this season.

Pro Football Focus, folks who watch and grade every single snap throughout the season, rated Williams as the 16th highest graded guard last season. Keep in mind, NFL teams employ 64 starting offensive guards. Connor Williams graded out in the top 75th percentile.  On most teams , Connor Williams would be celebrated as the best interior lineman on their roster. On the Cowboys, fans are trying to push him out of town. It’s mindboggling, really.

The bulk of his criticism likely stems from his play strength. Even though Connor has grown as a player every single season as a pro, he still flashes those occasional lowlights that fans can’t seem to forget.

It’s similar to some of the criticism Dak Prescott has faced. The lowlights are rare (statistically) but they are memorable. This places an unbalanced weight on the bad plays and disproportionately skews our assessment overall.

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But like Prescott, all players make mistakes like this. If you watch and grade each play around the NFL you’ll find very few players are as flawless as Zack Martin. Most NFL guards fall victim to a bull-rush here and there. And the ones that don’t lose to a bull-rush, often lose to athleticism. At the end of the day, they all have their highlights and lowlights and the total body of work needs to be assessed for a fair grade.

How expensive will someone of Connor Williams’ caliber be?

Looking at recent contracts we can get an idea of how much it will cost to retain Connor Williams. A couple big contracts were doled out to guards this offseason: Joe Thuney, PFF’s 10th  rated guard, signed for $16 million per year;  and Brandon Scherff, PFF’s 4th rated guard, was franchised for over $18 million. And then behind them we have Andrew Norwell, PFF’s 21st rated guard, at $9 million per year.

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It stands to reason, Connor Williams falls somewhere in between that trio of guards. So even by conservative estimates, he’d be $12 million per year range if he was a free agent this year. Now factor in the fact the salary cap dropped this offseason and the price of doing business next year is going to be much higher. So if Williams continues to perform as he has, expect well north of $12 million per year on his next deal.

Something to also keep in him is his age. Thuney, Scherff, and Norwell are all 29 and older. Connor Williams just turned 24-years old a week ago. 24! So he’s only scratched the surface of his potential and is still years away from his physical peak as an O-lineman.

I got news for Cowboys fans – when Connor Williams leaves Dallas, it will result in a downgrade at LG for the Cowboys, not an upgrade.

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Keep in mind, the best season of his career didn’t come because of elite talent around him, either. He became a top-8 left guard playing alongside a bunch of scrubs in 2020. No one was masking his flaws last year, that’s for sure. Williams played well in an otherwise disaster of a season last year. Let’s appreciate him while we have him

  • Published on 05/20/2021 at 16:01 PM
  • Last updated at 05/20/2021 at 14:04 PM