Acquired: Signed as an unrestricted free agent on March 14, 2013
Cary Williams rose to prominence for the Baltimore Ravens in 2012 and played his best football during the team's run through the playoffs and to a Super Bowl title. Following the season, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound veteran became an unrestricted free agent and a target of an Eagles team looking for size, length, physicality, competitiveness and championship pedigree at the cornerback position. Williams signed a three-year contract with the Eagles and was immediately penciled in as one of the starters, where he provided durability, stability and solid play, racking up 60 total tackles, three interceptions, 15 passes defended and even a sack.
A seventh-round pick out of Washburn inn i2008 who plays with a massive chip on his shoulder, Williams helped deliver on a preseason statement that the defense needed to become tougher and more intimidating to play against. The unit came together to become one of the NFL's stingiest in terms of points allowed during the final three months of 2013 and ranked among the league leaders in turnovers forced. Williams allowed a quarterback rating under 80.0 for the season and also served as a vital off-field, locker-room presence who contributed to establishing accountability and togetherness that had been lacking in previous seasons.
TOP PLAYS OF THE YEAR
Because it is hard to pick just one, we are highlighting Cary Williams' two biggest plays.
First, the most important one, which came in the de facto NFC East Championship game: Williams dove low to his right and perfectly placed his hand to break up Kyle Orton's two-point conversion pass intended for Dez Bryant late in the fourth quarter that would have tied the game at 24. His play preserved the Eagles' 24-22 lead.
The second play came in the opening game of the season in Washington against the Redskins: Early in the Redskins' first drive of the second half, quarterback Robert Griffin III dropped back and fired a pass intended for wide receiver Pierre Garcon along the sidelines. Williams had inside leverage but read both the route (an out) and Robert Griffin III's eyes. As Garcon made his break and Griffin wound up to throw, Williams flipped his hips, took one step and then dove to his right, before making a spectacularly athletic catch while parallel to the ground. His shoulder landed just inbounds, and the Eagles took over on offense at the Redskins' 31-yard line.
- That's the number of pass breakups Williams had in 2013, tied for first on the team with starting cornerback partner Bradley Fletcher.
DID YOU KNOW
Williams is one of just five players – the third since 1988 – from Washburn University ever to be drafted into the NFL, and he is by far the most successful. In fact, the other four combined to play in just 23 NFL games, while Williams has played in 71.