Williams, 30, appreciated the Seahawks’ honesty and eventually signed a three-year, $18 million deal that all but assures he will be the starting corner opposite Richard Sherman this season.
RENTON — When cornerback Cary Williams visited Seattle on his free-agency tour this offseason, the Seahawks shot holes in his game.
They told him all the customary niceties, of course, such as why his height and aggressiveness were a good fit. But they also pointed out his flaws, such as his occasional false steps in press coverage that have left him vulnerable.
“It could have easily been a recruiting process: ‘Hey, we kiss your butt, come on in here and sign up and we’re going to be great,’ ” Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard said. “But no, when guys come here, they need to know that our focus is to truly be your best, and you may not like what we have to say all the time, but the intent is to make you better.”
Williams, 30, appreciated the Seahawks’ honesty and eventually signed a three-year, $18 million deal that all but assures he will be the ’ starting corner opposite Richard Sherman this season (Williams is guaranteed $7 million, all in the first year).
“You already know as a player some of the good things you do,” Williams said, “but I think the most important thing is trying to get better and understanding what elements can help you get better and reach that level.”
Williams said he can improve in all areas, but perhaps the most important adjustment he will have to make is learning the Seahawks’ press-coverage technique.
They teach their corners a technique called the “step-kick”, and it works much like it sounds. Many receivers dance at the line to throw defensive backs off balance, but the Seahawks want their corners to take one “step” at the snap, then wait until the receiver makes a definitive move up field before “kicking” with their other leg. The concept is similar to a defender in basketball guarding a player crossing over but going nowhere.
A corner who bites on fakes can take “false steps” and get thrown off balance or out of position. What the Seahawks demand more than anything is patience, and as basic as it might sound, it goes against human nature to stand there surrounded by so much sensory overload.
Williams is a savvy veteran but still needs detailed refinement.
“He’s used it before in the past, just been a little inconsistent,” Richard said. “We’re not talking anything that he hasn’t done before.”
The man Williams will replace is Byron Maxwell, who teammates called a “technician” because he was so precise with the step-kick technique.
Williams has the physical tools to slide right in, as well as the pedigree. He is tall and enjoys playing aggressive press coverage, and he has been the starting corner on a Super Bowl-winning team (the 2012 Ravens). But for Williams to truly assimilate with the Seahawks, he must become a student of technique.
“It’s more attention to detail,” he said. “They talk about being more patient. It’s a lot of intricate things that’s a lot different than other places.”