RENTON – Kevin Williams had other options as he sat on the free-agent market with a reputation as one of the best defensive tackles of his generation and a good amount of gas left in his 33-year-old tank.
But what trumped a larger offer from New England and the familiarity of Minnesota was a chance to play for the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, who had everything else he was looking for.
“A team with a quarterback and a team that’s having fun and doing great things on defense and an opportunity to win,” he said, listing the criteria he was seeking in his next employer. “These guys presented that.”
Williams agreed to a one-year contract with Seattle last week. He signed it on Monday and then took part in Seattle’s first minicamp practice on Tuesday, which marked the first time in his career he’s donned a jersey other than that of the Vikings.
“I was telling them it’s just a different color and clothes,” he said. “It’s not a big deal. It’s still football.”
Albeit in a different role than the one he’s accustomed to, not in terms of the position he’s playing but the amount of time he’s expected to see at it.
Seattle plans to use the 6-foot-5, 311-pound Williams at the three-technique tackle spot, the same one he’s played for much of his career. It’s also the same position at which Tony McDaniel started last year before earning a new deal in the offseason. While Williams was a starter in each of his 11 NFL season and has a resume that includes six Pro Bowls, five First-Team All-Pro selections and a spot on the NFL’s All-Decade Team, all the Seahawks could offer him was a chance to compete for a part-time spot in a defensive-line rotation that is deeper than many others.
Some players as accomplished as Williams might view a reduced role as a concession. He considered the point he’s at in his career – entering his 12th season and approaching his 34th birthday – and ultimately saw it as an opportunity.
“I had like 700 snaps last year and nobody on the D-line here even came [close to] 650, I think,” he said. “It’s an awesome chance to get in and play a limited number of snaps and maximize the ability I have.”
That took a little convincing from coach Pete Carroll, who spoke with Williams early in the free-agency period and remained in contact with him throughout.
“He listened to what I was saying and said, ‘Maybe it might be time to do that,’ ” Carroll said “… That was the early conversation and we stayed with it. I think it’s a real natural way for us to utilize his strengths, and obviously he took to it – he’s here. He had other choices, he had other places to go and other deals to take and he wanted to be a part of our program.”
Williams’ addition feels familiar.
Last season the Seahawks waited out the free-agent market and found a pair of bargains in Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, two defensive linemen who saw Seattle as an ideal fit. The Seahawks also signed cornerback Antoine Winfield, a veteran who was added to a position at which Seattle had some promising but largely unproven backups. Seattle ultimately felt comfortable enough with Byron Maxwell, Walter Thurmond and Jeremy Lane to cut Winfield at the end of training camp.
The Seahawks have high hopes for second-year defensive tackles Jesse Williams and Jordan Hill, but both missed either all or most of their rookie seasons with injuries. Like Winfield a year ago, Kevin Williams gives Seattle a proven option.
“We’ll see what happens, Carroll said. “It’s all a competition and I’m sure he’s ready to battle for it.”
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.