Vikings' Williams moving on from paycut, ready to work
MAY 29, 2013 5:09p ET
Williams, 32, has always quietly been the anchor of the defensive line since being picked ninth overall by Minnesota in the infamous draft clock debacle in 2003. He doesn't have the same emotional or outspoken nature of former defensive tackle Pat Williams or defense end Jared Allen, the two players he's lined up next to the most in his time with the Vikings.
Williams is reserved. And entering what is likely his last season with Minnesota after he agreed to restructure his contract in the offseason, Williams isn't worrying about his disagreement with the Vikings' front office or his final season with the team. He's just going about his business.
"I'm not even getting into that anymore," Williams said Wednesday of his contract restructure after taking part in Minnesota's voluntary organized team activities. "That's over with. I restructured. Was it what I wanted to do? No, but it's done. I'm here, we're trying to get better. That's the main frame I'm in right now."
Williams, fourth all-time in team history with 56.5 sacks, was approached by the team this offseason to restructure his contract, which was scheduled to run through the 2014 season. With a cap hit of $7.5 million, Williams agreed to a new $4.9 million, fully-guaranteed contract for 2013, with a reported $100,000 workout bonus. But in the reworking, the 2014 part of Williams' contract was eliminated.
Williams wasn't happy with being approached for a paycut, but has moved on from the slight and is preparing for his 11th season with the Vikings.
"If a guy comes to you and says, ‘We're going to cut your money," and you do the same job, you're not going to agree with it either, but that's done," Williams said. "We came to agreement and we're here to play ball."
Williams moves on the only way he knows how, by coming back to the team and doing his job and being the veteran leader that coach Leslie Frazier has leaned on. Williams said joked skipping the voluntary workouts is "always a thought in your mind." But he's in Minnesota, still doing his job and leading by example.
"I mean, it's just a chance to get better," Williams said. "We've got a lot of young guys. If we're going to count on these young guys, they need some type of veteran leadership around showing them the right ways to do things. I take it on myself to be a leader and yeah, maybe me and the front office didn't agree on contract situation, but I'm still here to do a job."
One of those young guys is Williams' likely replacement. The Vikings drafted Florida's Sharrif Floyd with a first-round pick in April's draft. Floyd is another athletic tackle just like Williams was when he was taken in the first round out of Oklahoma State.
Williams' game has declined — he had just two sacks and a career-low 30 tackles last season in 16 games — but Frazier still counts on Williams' leadership.
"His attitude is great," Frazier said. "Kevin is a pro's pro. He's one of those guys I kind of lean on when we're trying to get things done here and just very, very grateful he's come back and wants to be a part of what we're trying to get it done. We lean on Kevin a lot. Not just what he does on the football field, but in the locker room, in this building. He's a great guy to have on your team and we expect him to really raise his level and play well this season."
Frazier knows how pride can be burned in the business of the league though, when tough decisions are made. He's thankful Williams agreed to the restructure.
"He's a veteran guy who has a lot of pride and has had a lot of success in our league," Frazier said. "But to his credit, he realized where things are and he made a decision to remain a Viking and we're all happy for that, because it makes us a better football team."
Williams said he still enjoys playing the game and wouldn't speculate on what might happen after the season.
He has willingly worked with Floyd. Floyd said he appreciates "having a great teacher" in front of him on the depth chart. Williams is only focused on helping Minnesota get back to the playoffs and make more than a one-game appearance. He wasn't worried when the Vikings drafted Floyd.
"I just look at it as we're trying to get better," Williams said. "If we can bring a young guy to help us win and he just so happens to play my position, so be it. I still think I'm the top dog here."
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