OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Long before the start of free agency, the Baltimore Ravens weighed their options and decided that 340-pound Brandon Williams was a keeper.
Then, after it became apparent that it was going to take a whole lot of money to make it happen, general manager Ozzie Newsome turned to owner Steve Bisciotti for guidance.
“Do what you have to do to get the deal done,” Bisciotti told Newsome.
And so, after agreeing to terms last week, Williams on Monday signed a five-year, $52.5 million contract that made him the highest-paid nose tackle in the NFL.
Williams has starred over the past three seasons for one of the best defensive units in the league. He is the latest in a long line of standouts at the position, following Tony Siragusa, Sam Adams, Kelly Gregg and Haloti Ngata.
“This is a really good investment for us, because of the kind of player he’s been and the kind of player he’s going to be,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I’m thrilled Brandon Williams is part of our championship run going forward.”
Surrounded by Newsome and Harbaugh at a news conference at the Ravens training complex, Williams wore a gray suit and a broad smile. He could have made big money elsewhere, but didn’t want to leave the team that showed faith in him by selecting him in the third round of the 2013 draft out of tiny Missouri Southern State.
“First off, I want to say, I’m glad to be home,” Williams said. “Big-time relief.”
Most players look forward to the process of putting themselves out there to the highest bidder. Williams, 28, had no desire to be part of it.
“I was hoping for the best, but expecting the worst,” he said. “It was tough, but in the end it worked out perfectly. When it got down to it, I couldn’t see myself in any other color but purple and black.”
Williams found out he was coming back with a phone call from Newsome that both participants won’t soon forget.
“The emotion that he had, the excitement, how happy he was, it was something that my wife said, ‘You’re on a high,’ and I was,” Newsome said. “I could just feel it through the phone.”
Williams said, “I was emotional. That phone call, knowing that I was going to continue to be a Raven, talking to Ozzie and hearing the happiness and joy in his voice, put a stamp on it — that I made the right choice.”
In addition to retaining Williams, who had 51 tackles and a sack in 2016, the Ravens added free agent safety Tony Jefferson to an ever-changing defense that ranked seventh last year.
“Just one piece at a time,” Harbaugh said. Then, referring to Williams, he added, “This is a big piece, literally and figuratively. Really, the main piece for our defense.”
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