Saints keep safety Williams by using franchise tag

<p>NEW ORLEANS &mdash; The New Orleans Saints have placed the franchise tag on free safety Marcus Williams, general manager Mickey Loomis announced on Tuesday. </p>
<p>The decision prevents the 24-year-old Williams from entering free agency and effectively places him under a one-year contract for about $10.5 million.</p>
<p>Williams was a second-round draft choice out of Utah in 2017, who has started since the beginning of his rookie year and has intercepted 13 passes during his first four NFL seasons.</p>
<p>Last season, Williams intercepted three passes to go with seven passes defensed.</p>
<p>The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Williams also has rebounded to have three largely productive seasons since his missed tackle attempt on Stefon Diggs allowed the then-Minesota receiver to scamper for a winning, 61-yard touchdown as time expired in a divisional-round playoff game in January 2018.</p>
<p>This past offseason, Williams said he was determined to improve his tackling after coaches told him that was a weakness in his game.</p>
<p>In 2020, he ranked fifth on the Saints with 59 solo or assisted tackles.</p>
<p>Retaining Williams gives the Saints a measure of continuity in the defensive backfield, with fellow safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback Marshon Lattimore also still under contract.</p>
<p>But the move also will complicate the Saints’ efforts to stay under the NFL salary cap, likely precipitating more cost-cutting across the roster.</p>
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