Playing on the final year of his rookie contract, Terrance Williams must be wondering what the future holds. The wide receiver will likely enter free agency next March and could be looking at a major life upheaval.
Williams was born and went to high school in Dallas. He went to college at Baylor, roughly 90 minutes down the road. He has spent the last four years playing for the Cowboys.
Obviously, leaving Dallas would carry far more significance for Terrance than the average player. However, that’s not the Cowboys’ concern. It will come down to whether or not Williams is valuable enough for a second contract.
Even with Dez Bryant missing the last three games, Terrance Williams has not emerged as the go-to receiver. Jason Witten and Cole Beasley lead the team with 42 and 39 targets, respectively, to just 24 for Williams.
To his credit, though, Williams has 20 catches on those 24 targets. That 83% (ironically) nearly matches Beasley’s 84% and is far ahead of Witten (67%) and Brice Butler (47%). He leads all of these receiving options with a 15.6 average per catch.
It’s a new high in efficiency for Terrance Williams, who has been known in the past for his drops. But is this enough to keep the Cowboys interest?
It hasn’t been all been roses. Williams’ had the biggest blunder of the season thus far by not running out of bounds at the end of the Cowboys’ Week 1 loss to the New York Giants. He ruined a 47-yard catch against the Chicago Bears with a fumble. Against the Cincinnati Bengals, Williams had a chance to recover a Prescott fumble but failed to scoop up the ball and allowed the Bengals to snag it away.
With Bryant set to return this Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, Williams’ opportunities to make positive are sure to decrease. Whether Dak Prescott or Tony Romo is the quarterback for the rest of the season, the Cowboys’ top three receiving options are locked in with Bryant, Beasley, and Witten.
It also doesn’t help that Williams turns 28 next September. If given a long-term deal, his physical abilities will likely be diminishing on the back end of the contract. Receivers are just below running backs in terms of the fear that performance will decline with age.
With neither Terrance Williams or Brice Butler really emerging this year, I expect the Cowboys to look for something better this offseason. With Dez Bryant’s recent injury history and Jason Witten moving closer to the end, they need another receiver in the stable who has above-average ability.
There’s always the chance that Williams could test free agency, not find interest, and then return to Dallas on a minimal contract. We’ve seen this many times at other positions; a veteran used as insurance in case the draft doesn’t yield a new option.
Having lived his whole life within the same 90-minute radius, Terrance Williams may want a new experience. Going to college less than two hours from home isn’t quite the same. Perhaps he will go into free agency hoping for a change of scenery, both for his professional and personal growth.
With his current resume and production rate, I don’t expect Williams to remain a Cowboy beyond 2016. However, he has 13 games (it’s Week 8, do the math) left to change some minds.