Michael Pierce Can Replace Brandon Williams

Michael Pierce can be the replacement to Brandon Williams on the defensive line.

The key free agent for the Baltimore Ravens this offseason is Brandon Williams. We are all wondering if the Ravens will re-sign him, and if they do, how much will it cost them? The Ravens are 28th in salary cap space heading into this offseason. They have several players that could free up around $25-30 million, but that is still middle of the pack compared to other teams around the league. Needless to say, every penny Baltimore can save will be important.

In order for the Ravens to compete this season, spending money in free agency is a necessity. Brandon Williams will ask somewhere around $10 million/per year. That is a significant amount that the Ravens can’t afford to spend. Baltimore has several needs at a lot of different positions and not all of them can be addressed in the draft. Knocking off a large amount of the cap space on one player is not a smart move.

Who Replaces Him?

Ozzie Newsome always drafts lineman well. He has drafted Carl Davis and Willie Henry as possible replacements. But the one most capable of replacing Williams was an undrafted free agent. Michael Pierce burst on the scene after coming to the Ravens from Samford University. During the preseason, Pierce showed out with 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He stuffed runs and was a force in the middle, earning him a spot on the 53-man roster for the regular season.

Things would change in the regular season. Pierce played well when given the opportunity, racking up 2 sacks.  He also had 3 games with 5 or more total tackles. However, Pierce didn’t get many chances to play, as he was a back-up to Williams, who was the best nose tackle in the league.  Pierce played well enough to ease fans anxiety about the possibility of Brandon Williams leaving in free agency.

Can Pierce Be As Good As Williams?

Michael Pierce is almost a replica of Brandon Williams. They are both 6’0″ and 335 lbs. Both are extremely strong and have the ability to take on double teams. This is the most important quality of a nose tackle because it frees up the linebackers and doesn’t allow linemen to move up-field and get bodies on them.

One thing Pierce does better than Williams is get to the quarterback. In his 20 total games (including preseason), Pierce had 3.5 sacks. In Williams full 4 years of his career, he has 4.5. Of course, Williams took on double teams constantly and even triple teams in some cases. However, Pierce was no different, as he also demanded double teams. When you don’t put more than one player on Pierce, he takes advantage of it and makes opposing quarterbacks pay.

Pierce is also laterally quicker than Brandon Williams. He can shed blocks and then work to the sidelines and up-field to make tackles. Both are quality tacklers, but Williams is slightly better in this category, mostly due to his experience.

Go With Pierce

Michael Pierce is not and will not be Brandon Williams, but he can be just as good. You save a lot of money going with Pierce.  This money can be used on other needs to make the team elite.  When Pierce hits free agency, he won’t be an unrestricted free agent like Williams is now. The Ravens can put a tender on him, making it difficult for other teams to sign him when his contract is up. It  makes more sense keeping Pierce and moving forward with him and letting Williams walk.

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