On Thursday, he was granted his wish.
Just one day after jettisoning wide receiver Terrell Owens, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones maintained the trend of pink slips for his high-profile players by terminating Williams' contract. The move, first reported by The Dallas Morning News and confirmed through league sources, makes Williams a free agent and puts a youthful and still-productive defensive player on the open market.
Williams, 28, was the Cowboys' first-round pick in the 2002 draft, from Oklahoma.
The seven-year veteran, a fixture in the Dallas interior secondary, was named to five Pro Bowl teams and one All-Pro squad. During his career with the Cowboys, Williams collected 611 tackles, 6½ sacks, 19 interceptions and 56 passes defensed.
Blessed with the instincts of a safety and the hitting power of a linebacker, Williams was often a liability in pass coverage. He was at his best playing close to the line of scrimmage and was an effective defender versus the run.
Williams recently signed a $25 million contract extension, which included an $11 million signing bonus. His departure saves the Cowboys about $1 million in salary-cap room.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.