Williams said he wants to play in the NFL this season, ESPN.com reports. The Steelers seem content with some combination of James Conner (hamstring), Knile Davis and Fitzgerald Toussaint serving as the backups to Le'Veon Bell (knee). The 34-year-old Williams might get a call from his former team if one of those players suffers a serious injury, but in all likelihood he'll need to find a new team in order to continue his career. After averaging 4.5 yards on 200 carries and 7.8 yards on 47 targets in 2015, he dropped off to 3.5 yards on 98 carries and 4.4 yards on 27 targets in nine games last season. Continuing his career might mean accepting a job with a team that wants him to battle for a roster spot.
Williams could still re-sign with the Steelers if he decides to play another season, ESPN.com reports. The 33-year-old unrestricted free agent hasn't commented on whether he plans to continue playing, but he also hasn't hinted toward any intention of retiring. Coming off an injury-plagued season in which he averaged only 3.5 yards per carry in nine games, Williams doesn't seem to be drawing much attention from other teams. The Steelers recently signed Knile Davis to boost their backfield depth, but the new addition doesn't necessarily preclude Williams from returning, as Davis owns a career YPC of just 3.2 and has done his best work as a kick returner. Should he ultimately return to Pittsburgh for another season, Williams would mostly have value as a handcuff for Le'Veon Bell owners. However, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette believes Williams is unlikely to re-sign.
Williams ran for 34 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries in the Steelers' 36-17 loss to the Patriots on Sunday. He also caught seven passes for 51 yards. The combination of losing Le'Veon Bell (groin) and trailing early forced Pittsburgh to become one-dimensional on offense. As a result, Williams was more of a factor in the passing game. Injuries and suspensions to Bell have required the Steelers to call upon Williams often during his tenure with the team. He'll turn 34 before next season, but the unrestricted free agent may seek a starting role elsewhere next season.
Williams ran twice for two yards in Pittsburgh's 30-12 playoff win against Miami on Sunday. The Steelers jumped out to an early lead, then leaned heavily on Le'Veon Bell, whose 165 rushing yards were the most by a Pittsburgh player in a postseason game, breaking the mark of 158 set by Franco Harris in Super Bowl IX against the Vikings (January 12, 1975). Thus, they didn't need to call on Williams until the final minutes of the game. Bell ran for 144 yards in a 43-14 win over the Chiefs earlier this season, so Williams may not see much action in next week's playoff game either. Serving as Bell's primary back-up this season, Williams totaled 343 yards and four touchdowns on 98 carries, and caught 18 passes for 118 yards and another two scores.
Williams carried 23 times for 67 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's game against the Browns. He also caught three of four targets for 27 yards and another touchdown in the 27-24 win. Starting for a resting Le'Veon Bell, Williams caught an 11-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and later plowed in from one yard out for his second score of the day. Despite a bit of inefficiency on the ground, Williams' performance was extremely positive for the team, as he looks poised to return to a useful backup role during the playoffs after not contributing in any of the last seven games due to injury.
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|12||11/27||Green Bay Packers||25||19.67|
|15||12/17||New England Patriots||30||21.33|
|3 Year Avg||120||490||5||21||176||1||100|