On Friday, the Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers announced that Corey Williams will be headed to Cleveland, just a week after he was tagged as a franchise player for Green Bay and received a large pay increase. The Browns are reportedly going to give Green Bay a late 2nd-round pick in the draft in exchange. With the Packers depth at defensive tackle, Williams’ departure isn’t as big as it would be for other teams. Although I would have liked to see a slightly earlier pick in the draft (the Broncos had similar need at DT and an earlier pick), this still looks like an ingenious move by Ted Thompson. Why? Because one of the conditions of the trade is that Cleveland picks up Williams’ new contract. By signing Williams to his large new contract, Thompson prevented the defensive tackle from leaving for free agency, where the Packers would have gotten no compensation for his departure. Now, Cleveland will be paying the high price tag for the contract that the Williams signed with the Packers. Basically, the Packers were able to get what is in essence a free second-round draft pick for a player they would have lost to free agency anyway. This is a really smart move by Thompson.
It does, however, assume that the Packers defensive front will not be riddled with injuries this year, and that apparent bust Justin Harrell steps up his game when he does get playing time. The Packers might even spend a late draft pick on a defensive tackle to add depth.
Still, this move seems to have been a great deal for all parties involved, and the Packers will now be able to have a few more options come April and the NFL Draft.