Williams expects to return next season

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams did not want to hear the question.

Before it had even been completed, he interrupted.

"Don't do it," Williams said with a smile. "Don't do it."

The seventh-year veteran is savvy enough to know what was coming. He's at an age (30) and has a contract (due to pay him $7.5 million in salary and bonuses next season, the final year of his deal) that makes him an easy target. He's just the kind of player whom general manager Ted Thompson usually takes a long, hard look at bringing back.

"That's the reality of some things, like you said," Williams said this week. "But truthfully, I can't worry about that. I'm under contract for next year, so I plan on being here."

In the last month, Williams has stated his case -- not verbally, but with his play. He has two interceptions in the last four games and during that stretch, he has not allowed a touchdown and his tackling has been superb. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Williams has allowed just 8 total yards after the catch on six opponent receptions against him over the last three games. He allowed three completions in last Sunday's 22-21 win over the Atlanta Falcons, but none went for longer than 8 yards.

Williams has bounced between playing outside in the base defense and inside in the nickel and dime packages for much of the season. Against the Falcons, defensive coordinator Dom Capers returned Williams to his natural outside position for the entire game.

However, Capers no longer matches Williams exclusively on the opponent's best receiver like he used to. Fellow cornerback Sam Shields spent as much time (if not more) covering Atlanta's top receiver, Roddy White, as Williams did Sunday.

"You know we've been playing Tramon inside," Capers said. "I think he's a more natural outside player."

Shields is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after this season, and general manager Ted Thompson is trying to decide whether to pay Shields somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million per season. That could be another factor that might impact Williams' future.

If his contract remains unchanged for next season, Williams would be tied for the fifth-highest paid cornerback in the NFL based on players currently under contract for next season. He would rank behind only Tampa Bay's Darrelle Revis ($16 million), Denver's Champ Bailey ($10 million), the Jets' Antonio Cromartie ($9.5 million) and St. Louis' Cortland Finnegan ($9 million).

ProFootballFocus.com, which grades every play of every game, has Williams ranked as the NFL's 16th-best cornerback this season among those who have played at least 75 percent of the snaps. In pass coverage only, PFF ranked Williams 11th but based on opposing quarterbacks' passer rating against him in coverage, Williams ranks 22nd.

Williams has watched the Packers go to a veteran like A.J. Hawk for a pay cut or contract restructuring twice in the last three years, so he knows it might be coming.

"It's part of the business," Williams said. "But like I said, I'm under contract so I expect to be here."