NFC East: Kevin Williams

Gauging Jason Hatcher's market

March, 11, 2014
IRVING, Texas -- Jason Hatcher has been waiting for this day for a long time.

He will soon find out how much the rest of the NFL thinks of him and whether he will be a former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle.

It is not an apples-to-apples comparison, but in the last week two defensive ends have signed contracts that could be an indication of what Hatcher, who led the Cowboys in sacks (11) in 2013, gets paid.

The Minnesota Vikings signed Everson Griffen to a five-year, $42.5 million deal with $20 million guaranteed. He had 17.5 sacks in his first four seasons and has started only one game. The Vikings, however, are changing the face of their defensive line and will likely say goodbye to Jared Allen and Kevin Williams in favor of Griffen and Sharrif Floyd.

Griffen is also 26.

On Monday, the Seattle Seahawks re-signed Michael Bennett to a four-year, $28.5 million deal with $16 million guaranteed. Bennett had 8.5 sacks in 2013 in helping the Seahawks win the Super Bowl. He has 23.5 sacks in his career, including 17.5 in the last two seasons.

He is 28.

Hatcher’s first bite at the free-agent market came in 2011 after a lockout. Teams acted quickly and Hatcher took a three-year, $6 million deal from the Cowboys. Up to that point he had started one game and never had more than 2.5 sacks in a season.

Now 31 and coming off his best season, Hatcher wants to cash in. If Griffen can get a deal worth $8.5 million annually and Bennett, who is better than Griffen, gets $7.125 million annually, then does that keep Hatcher in the $6 million-a-year neighborhood? Maybe it's in the mid-$5 million range.

He plays a different position, but ends tend to have more value than tackles, even in a 4-3. Age will also be a factor. It can be argued Hatcher does not have as many miles on his soon-to-be 32-year-old body, but that won’t inflate his price that much.

The Cowboys would have to create cap room for a deal. They could re-work the deal for DeMarcus Ware or release the seven-time Pro Bowler, or they cut lower-priced players to fit Hatcher’s first-year cap figure. They don’t want to restructure anymore contracts.

Teams like the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are believed to have interest in Hatcher, but what type of interest is it?

It seemed like a foregone conclusion when the season ended that Hatcher would not be with the Cowboys in 2014, but the salary cap has increased and his price might be more palatable than originally believed.

Cowboys brace for the Williams Wall

January, 16, 2010
Much has been made of the matchup between Cowboys left tackle Flozell Adams and Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, but Minnesota's Williams Wall (Kevin and Pat) has also occupied the thoughts and prayers of Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett this week. My colleague and pal Kevin Seifert of NFC North blogging fame pointed out earlier this afternoon that the Vikings have the No. 1 rush-up-the-middle defense in the league. Oh, and guess who has the best up-the-middle rushing attack in the NFL according to ESPN Stats and Information? That would be the Dallas Cowboys.

I can't recall a playoff meeting that has featured two teams that are so evenly matched. And since I've been fascinated by Seifert's accounts of the Williams Wall, I reached out to former Packers, Eagles, Jaguars and Cowboys scout Bryan Broaddus (now with 103.3 ESPN in Dallas) to find out more. Here's what he said about Kevin Williams:

"[Kevin] Williams plays the 3 technique over the guard and is a real handful to deal with not only because of his power but his outstanding quickness. One of Williams' best moves is his spin move where he takes the blocker to one side then quickly works the other way, all the time moving up the field. Williams will line up on either side, but will most likely see more action over left guard Kyle Kosier because he doesn’t have the mass of right guard Leonard Davis. Kosier did have his struggles as a one-on-one blocker with the powerful Albert Haynesworth."

So each team has an All-Pro defensive tackle (Kevin Williams and Jay Ratliff) and pass-rusher (Jared Allen and DeMarcus Ware). This has to be one of the most intriguing divisional playoff games in years. And the Beast will be there to bring you all the action.

And by the way, here is Broaddus' scouting report on Allen: "Allen is an interesting rusher because he doesn’t give the tackles much of a hitting surface. Allen really does a nice job of getting the corner by getting his shoulder past the blocker, then relentlessly chasing the ball. When Allen does get in trouble is when he misses his rush and takes the blocker down the middle. Allen is not a powerful player and if Flozell Adams can consistently set to make him rush down the middle, he could have a very good day. Just a side note: In years past, Adams has struggled when you give him help. There has been times where he is not quite sure where his help was in relation to the block and it has given him problems."

NFC East lands 3 players on All-Pro team

January, 14, 2010
The Associated Press' 2009 All-Pro team has just been released and the NFC East had three players show up on the list. It's the first appearance for Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver and Cowboys defensive tackle Jay Ratliff. Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware was the third player from the NFC East voted to the team.

The All-Pro team is obviously more prestigious than being chosen for the Pro Bowl. The AFC had 15 players and the NFC had 12. Since the Vikings and Cowboys play Sunday, it's interesting to note that the two teams occupied both defensive tackle spots with Kevin Williams joining Ratliff. And Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, running back Adrian Peterson and guard Steve Hutchinson were also named to the exclusive team.

As expected, the Giants and Redskins did not land anyone on the All-Pro team. Eagles kicker David Akers, defensive end Trent Cole, kick returner DeSean Jackson and cornerback Asante Samuel made the second-team All-Pro list, according to the club. Jackson was edged out by Josh Cribbs for the first-team kick returner spot and I'm not sure who was ahead of him at receiver on the second team. I'll track that down for you guys.

NFC East Pro Bowl analysis

December, 29, 2009
NFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Perfect sense: I'm glad that the voters rewarded DeSean Jackson for a huge season. He's the first player in Pro Bowl history to be elected as a kick returner and wide receiver in the same season. Pretty remarkable stuff. Obviously, Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware needed to be the starter. His numbers might be a little down, but he's still the most dynamic pass-rusher in the league and coaches and players realize that. It's also hard to argue with Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel as a starter. He's once again putting up huge numbers in terms of interceptions and quarterbacks always have to account for him. It's great that Eagles defensive end Trent Cole and Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo made the team. Cole's one of the most underappreciated players in the league. And I'm really glad the players and coaches recognized Orakpo's excellent rookie season. Both of those players are reserves. I also don't have any problem with Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver being named a starter. I'm sure some Vikings fans are upset with that pick, but Weaver's put up excellent numbers both catching and running the ball. I think David Akers totally deserves to go for the Eagles. He had an excellent season and he continues to be a clutch kicker.

Made it on rep: Cowboys center Andre Gurode should not be starting in the Pro Bowl, and I think he'd even tell you that. This has not been one of his better seasons, so this was totally based on reputation. I think players and coaches get the offensive linemen wrong more than any other unit on the field. I also think Cowboys right guard Leonard Davis made it as a reserve based on reputation, and the same thing goes for Eagles left tackle Jason Peters. I think Giants center Shaun O'Hara's a good player, but there's no way he deserves a spot on the Pro Bowl roster over Chris Snee. I'm hoping I missed something because Snee deserves the spot on the team over O'Hara.

Got robbed: Shame on the fans for not putting Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff higher on their list. The last time I checked, he wasn't even in the top five in the fan voting. The coaches and the players made sure he at least made it as a reserve. I understand putting Kevin Williams as a starter, but give me a break on Darnell Dockett. I think that's ridiculous. For the Eagles, I think cornerback Sheldon Brown and tight end Brent Celek should have been on the team. They're both alternates, but that doesn't cut it. Brown has played through injuries and been excellent this season. Celek simply had to overcome too many big names. Vernon Davis had an excellent season for the 49ers and Witten finished strong for the Cowboys. I could make an argument that Celek should've made it in front of Witten. Just look at the huge discrepancy in touchdowns. And I would've put Donovan McNabb or Tony Romo in front of Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. Rodgers put up a lot of empty numbers in the first half of the season and he takes entirely too many sacks. That's a bad choice by the coaches and players. Romo and McNabb were at their best in December. I also hoped that coaches and player would right a longtime wrong and put London Fletcher in the Pro Bowl. It didn't happen. I guess the guy will never get voted in. That's too bad. He had an excellent season. Same goes for Andre Carter. He had 134 tackles, which was second in the league. One more guy that was robbed: Giants wide receiver Steve Smith. He should have at least been a reserve.