As the Cardinals fill out their roster for 2021, the search for leadership continues to make itself apparent in the team’s moves.
The latest example came Monday, when the team agreed to a one-year deal with veteran safety Shawn Williams, who played the first eight years of his career with the Bengals. He turns 30 in May and was one of the Bengals’ team captains.
A short time after the Williams deal, the Cards also agreed to a one-year contract to bring back fellow safety/special teamer Chris Banjo.
Williams, a 2013 third-round pick, was the team leader in tackles in 2019 when he started all 16 games. He was moved to a backup role in 2020 and became a key cog on special teams (at one point turning a fake punt on fourth-and-13 against the Steelers into a 39-yard run).
In his career, Williams has started 61 of 119 games, with 12 interceptions. He joins another long-time Bengal now on the Cardinals, wide receiver A.J. Green.
The Cardinals ended up short at safety last season when early-season injuries left them without starters Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson. Williams can be a hedge against that happening again. Veteran Deionte Thompson is the other veteran safety on the roster, along with Banjo.
Banjo was Jalen Thompson’s main replacement last season. Although he officially started only 13 games, he played 436 defensive snaps, by far the most of his NFL career. He has appeared in 26 games over two seasons with the Cardinals. Because of his need on defense, Banjo’s special teams snaps fell from 290 in 2019 to 175 last season.