1. RB Jamaal Williams
Williams was the Lions first 1,000-yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013 this year. He also passed Barry Sanders and set the new franchise record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 17.
For a stretch this season though, he also struggled to produce as the ground game couldn’t get much footing. He is not a bell-cow back or very involved/dynamic as a pass catcher, and he clearly set his career-high for carries by more than 100 (262; seventh-most in the league). It’s worth wondering if that workload wore him down before a better final two games.
There is certainly a case for 2022 being Wiliams’ career year by some distance, even though he’ll turn 28 in April without the kind of mileage backs of that age can have on them. Topping 1,000 yards is one thing, but 17 rushing scores will not be repeated.
Apart from his production, or whatever expectation there should be for some drop-off there moving forward, Williams is clearly a vocal leader and a tone-setter in the Lions’ locker room. He has been open and adamant about his desire to re-sign. The coaching staff and front office clearly value him.
But that isn’t to say the Lions should just pay Williams whatever over however many years and stupidly invite risk; not that would do so. But a deal along the lines of Spotrac’s projected market value–two years, $8.35 million, $4.17 million per year–would be fine.
Williams is another free agent who may give the Lions every chance to match other offers he gets, and/or if the Lions’ offer is close enough to the best he gets he may just take it. A re-upping of a happy marriage for a couple more years feels like the most likely outcome here.