It is well known throughout all professional sports that contract years for athletes are very important. That is, a player who's contract expires at the end of the season who looks to put together one of their best seasons as a pro in order to bring in top money from another team, or show his current team enough to be resigned.
We have already talked extensively here at Inside The Star about current Cowboys who's contracts have expired, as we approach free agency. Now, let's fast-forward to the start of the 2016 season and take a look at a Cowboys wide receiver who will be playing in a contract year.
Terrance Williams' time in Dallas has been highlighted by inconsistency. His stat lines from his first three seasons as a Cowboy are as follows:
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2013 – 44 REC 736 YDS 5 TDs
2014 – 37 REC 621 YDS 8 TDs
2015 – 52 REC 840 YDS 3 TDs
Coming into this season, fans took some slight comfort in coping with the possibility of playing without Dez Bryant, because Terrance Williams was ready to take over as a top target.
While Dez was limited the whole season when on the field, Williams did little to step up and help the Cowboys offense. Yes, he had to deal with the likes of Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel throwing him the ball, but a WR who is only good when playing with a top QB is not a player who will bring in a large contract.
The knocks on Williams' have been that he is a body catcher and that he checks out of plays in which he is not the primary target. However, we saw in the later half of the season how dangerous he can be if he does indeed get the ball in his hands.
As a three-year player, the honest evaluation on Williams to this point is that if you are relying on him to be your second best receiver, you have an issue. If you ask him to be a role player to take the top off the defense as part of a deeper receiving core, you can likely live with Terrance Williams.
Brice Butler made the most of his playing time down the stretch in Dallas, and the thought was that he will replace Williams on the outside next season. If this does indeed happen, I do not see Williams returning in 2017 as a role player.
Dez Bryant is the franchise's pride at the receiver position, locked up on a mega-contract until 2019. What the Cowboys get out of this contract to Bryant will be dictated by who they get to play across from him. While Butler likely isn't the long-term answer to that question, Terrance Williams has shown that he is not that guy as well.
I expect Butler to replace Williams after training camp, and the Cowboys to also bring in another WR through the draft or free agency.
Terrance Williams is certainly a guy that needs a big contract year for the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.