It would be easy to be disappointed with the re-signing of Sam Williams, the poster boy for Al Davis’ scholarship program.
Sam Williams, now in his eighth season as a Raider, was supposed to be the answer as the SAM linebacker. He never panned out.
Williams career started off rocky. He only played 10 games in his first three NFL seasons.
Many teams would have cut Williams loose then, but Al Davis kept him on “scholarship.”
Healthy for the first time in 2006, Williams never developed into a starting caliber strong-side linebacker. He recorded 38 tackles and 1 sack while starting in 13 games and playing in 15.
After that, the Raiders realized Sam Williams was not the answer at outside linebacker and he started just 4 games in 2007 and had 16 tackles while beginning his special teams career.
In 2008 and 2009, Williams started 2 games, but became a core special teamer. He was only forced into two starts at linebacker due to injury.
Keeping Williams around after three injury plagued seasons and one disappointing starting campaign was Al Davis’ scholarship. Keeping him around as a core special teamer doesn’t qualify.
From most accounts, Sam Williams is a quality human being. He was close with Marquis Cooper, the special teamer lost at sea last offseason. He may not be a leader, but hasn’t given the team any reason to opt for a younger special teamer.
Be disappointed if you want, but Sam Williams isn’t on scholarship, he is just a special teams player the Raiders like to retain (See Isaiah Ekejiuba’s restricted free agent tender).
If a younger linebacker with a lot of potential comes along with added special teams value, perhaps the scholarship could be revived to keep Williams around. I’m no longer convinced it will continue, because Williams is what he is and that is strictly a special teams player.
Even Al Davis is under no impression that Williams can be more. He traded for Kamerion Wimbley to play the very position he drafted Williams to play back in 2003.