DJ Williams

proCane Free Agent Signing Roundup

A lot has happened in the last 48 hours in the NFL as far as Free Agent signings and our proCanes have been at the center of it all with several proCane stars joining new teams. See a recap of all the action below:

Former 49ers RB Frank Gore signed a 3-year $12 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts.

Former Texans WR Andre Johnson signed a 3-year $21 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts.

TE Jimmy Graham was traded from the New Orleans Saints to Seattle Seahawks.

Former Giants S Antrel Rolle signed a 3-year $11.25 million contract with the Chicago Bears.

Former Redskins WR Leonard Hankerson signed a 1-year $1 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

OT Eric Winston re-signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Former Broncos OL Orlando Franklin signed a 5-year $36 million contract with the San Diego Chargers.

OT Jason Fox re-signed with the Miami Dolphins.

MLB Jon Beason re-signed with the NY Giants.

Notable proCane Free Agents still available: Chris Myers, Brandon Meriweather, Santana Moss, Colin McCarthy, Reggie Wayne, Vince Wilfork, DJ Williams, Darryl Sharpton.

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Bears moving on from MLB D.J. Williams

CHICAGO – The Chicago Bears have informed free agent middle linebacker D.J. Williams of the team’s intention to move in a different direction, and that Williams will not be offered a contract to return, according to source with direct knowledge of the situation.

Several teams have expressed interest in the 32-year old linebacker in advance of Tuesday’s official opening of free agency.

Williams started 10 games and recorded 73 tackles last year for the Bears before landing on injured reserve on Dec. 11 because of a nagging neck ailment.

The 11-year veteran played just six games in 2013 before suffering a season-ending torn pectoral muscle.

Williams spent the first nine seasons of his NFL career (2004-2012) in Denver where he solidified himself as one of the Broncos’ top defenders, registering 100-plus tackles five times while moving around to play middle, strong side and weak side linebacker.

Williams overlapped with new Bears coach John Fox for two years in Denver, and even though Williams endorsed the Fox hire in Chicago, he expressed uncertainty over his future in Chicago during an interview with ESPN 1000’s “Carmen and Jurko Show” in January.

"I had a good relationship with John Fox," Williams said. "He was a great coach. I'm late in my career and I do want to go to a place where I'm comfortable. I feel like if I do talk to John Fox he would shoot me straight and tell me what my position would be on the team. I'm feeling pretty good. I had a neck injury earlier this year. It's one of those injuries that you just needed time for it to heal. Now I'm feeling good and ready to go."

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Dyme U Collection By proCane DJ Williams. GET IT NOW!


D.J. Williams: John Fox's experience huge bonus for Bears

CHICAGO -- Free-agent middle linebacker D.J. Williams is a firm believer that brand-new Chicago Bears head coach John Fox's wealth of experience separated the 59-year-old from other candidates.

"Fox has been through the ups and downs of the NFL; he knows and understands the dynamics of the league," Williams said on ESPN 1000's "Carmen and Jurko Show" on Friday. "A younger coach may not. They may be new and innovative with ideas and things like that, but at the end of the day, it's football. It's run the ball, throw the ball, tackle the ball carrier ... it's a simple game, but sometimes I feel like people make it too difficult."

Williams, an 11-year veteran, spent two seasons (2011-12) in Denver with Fox before jumping to the Bears in 2013. Fox brings 13 years of head-coaching experience to Chicago, after successful runs with the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. Fox won four straight division titles in Denver and qualified for the postseason three times in Carolina.

"Fox makes coming to work fun," Williams said. "I would say he's an easy-going guy, but he's still old-school football. It's very hard to find a blend of that, somebody who's like real hard-nosed, but laid-back at the same time. I find you don't demand respect, you earn it. Being around John Fox for two years, how he approaches guys in the locker room, he'll chat you up and talk to you ... when you do that you get respect from the guys."

Fox and general manager Ryan Pace face an uphill battle to rebuild the Bears' defense, a unit that struggled mightily the past two seasons. Williams is one of several older players on the roster new management may deem expendable, especially after Williams ended the year of injured reserve (neck) for the second consecutive year.

Williams, a free agent, is unsure whether Chicago wants him to return but expects a straightforward answer from Fox if the two meet to discuss the linebacker's future.

"I had a good relationship with John Fox," Williams said. "He was a great coach. I'm late in my career and I do want to go to a place where I'm comfortable. I feel like if I do talk to John Fox he would shoot me straight and tell me what my position would be on the team. I'm feeling pretty good. I had a neck injury earlier this year. It's one of those injuries that you just needed time for it to heal. Now I'm feeling good and ready to go."

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Bears MLB D.J. Williams done for year with neck injury

A neck injury has landed Bears middle linebacker D.J. Williams on season-ending injured reserve.

Williams, who had recently returned from a concussion, started all but two games this season and finishes it having contributed to 46 tackles. He had no sacks or interceptions, however.

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D.J. Williams Talks About Dyme Lyfe Movement

(CBS) The Bears (2-2) face the Panthers (2-2) on the road Sunday. Here’s what is on my mind heading into the matchup.

First impression
A Dyme Lyfe started in 2009 for Bears linebacker D. J. Williams and a few then-teammates on the Denver Broncos. Think of it as a lifestyle of random acts of kindness.

“Dyme is actually an acronym for Do you motivate and emanate?” Williams said. “We try to get people to be themselves, be positive, be who you are and push that out in the world.”

Williams started a clothing line of the same name and printed up some shirts for teammates last week with a Bears twist on the “Be A Monster” theme prevalent in the organization. It’s tied into several charity endeavors Williams is involved with, including “Homeicon1 Team Closet.”

“We have a lot of shoes and clothes as pro athletesicon1,” Williams said. “We asked guys on the team to clean out their closet.”

Williams asked Brandon Marshall and Tim Jennings to pitch in, and just between the three of them they came up with 500 items, some of which were donated to 15 kids in Chicago on Monday.

“The big vision of it is to have a bin in every locker room in every pro sport,” Williams said. “If we do that, we think we can help out a lot of people. Just imagine if everybody in the world did one favor for somebody else, how great things would be.”

More on Williams’ “Dyme Lyfe” will air in Sunday’s audio version of Joniak’s Journal on the Bears-Panthers pregame show airing at 10:10 a.m. on News Radio 780 and 105.9 FM, WBBM.

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Comments EXCLUSIVE Preview of Article Running TOMORROW on the 2001 Hurricanes

A message from Aaron Torres of

“They’re the greatest team of all-time.”

It’s a statement we often hear about the 2001 Miami Hurricanes, both by fans, and the media members who cover college football as well.

But after hearing it earlier this year, a light-bulb went off in my head: Just about everyone seems to have an opinion the 2001 ‘Canes, except Miami’s former players and coaches themselves.

And from there, another thought immediately popped into my head: What if I tracked down as many Hurricanes players and coaches from that 2001 season as I could, interviewed them, and asked what they thought about their team, and where they rank in college football history.

How awesome would that be?

Well, six months later, the answer was “spectacular” and after collecting interviews with roughly 50 former players and coaches, an article, the definitive article on the greatest team in the history of college football will run on on Wednesday.

If you’re a ‘Canes fan (which I have to imagine you are if you’re reading this website), I can promise you that you can enjoy the article.

But here’s the thing: During the process of reporting the article, I learned that I wasn’t the only one who shared the same passion for the 2001 ‘Canes. As it turned out, one of the former players I interviewed, Najeh Davenport, also shared that passion, and like me wanted to tell the world his team’s story. Najeh recently released a documentary about the team, titled ‘The U: Reloaded’ which premiered last month. Through Najeh, I met his business partner Platon, who runs things here at

And it was through my friendship with Platon, that we’ve decided to give Miami fans a treat. Before the article runs in full on Wednesday, Platon was nice enough to offer up his space here on, to run an excerpt. It’s a treat for all you diehard ‘Canes fans, and proCanes is the only place that you can read this exclusive excerpt.

Of course the article will still run in its entirety Wednesday, and if you enjoy what you read here, be sure to check out the article on You can also follow on Twitter @Aaron_Torres, where I’ll post the link once it goes live.

In the meantime, enjoy this excerpt from the article….

In the excerpt, we pick things up shortly after Larry Coker was hired as head coach, as the team prepared for the 2001 season.

As you’ll learn however, it really didn’t matter who the Hurricanes had hired as head coach. The team was not going to be denied the title that had eluded them the year before.

Again, enjoy and be sure to look for the full article on Wednesday.

The final, and arguably most important piece to the 2001 team was set: Miami had its head coach.

Now it was time to get to work. A team that had been denied a shot at a National Championship the season before, was not going to allow that to happen again.

Joaquin Gonzalez (senior, offensive tackle): The one thing I remember going into 2001 was, Larry Coker and his staff, as well as the players decided that we weren’t going to leave the decision on who plays for the championship on anyone else’s plate but our own. 

Brett Romberg (junior, center): (Our mindset was) ‘This year it ain’t gonna be decided on a poll or whatever kind of computer analysis.’ We were worked up, ready to get back at it.

Maurice Sikes (sophomore, safety): If you’re going to say you’re a champion, earn it. Don’t leave it to a voter; don’t leave it to anything to chance.’

D.J. Williams (sophomore, linebacker): It was great to be there with Butch, but when he left our plan didn’t change.

Brett Romberg (junior, center): We were anxious to get back at it. We didn’t want downtime. Usually you’re excited to get back home, brag ‘We just won the Sugar Bowl’ but we didn’t want that. We were like, ‘Let’s get back in the weight room, and get after it.

Ed Reed (senior, safety): When we got back to Miami to start spring football … my God. That spring before that National Championship year, those off-season workouts, it was like no other in the world.

Andreu Swasey (strength and conditioning coach): That was our DNA (to work hard). That is part of our system. It wasn’t talent-driven, it was work-ethic driven.

Mike Rumph (senior, cornerback): I don’t feel like we get ever get credit for our work ethic. I played six years in the NFL and the hardest I ever worked was at Miami. Those summers were treacherous.

Frank Gore (freshman, running back): My first day I get there, we were doing agilities with the linebackers; I’m competing with Chris Campbell, God rest his soul, and I’m like ‘Man, I think I made the wrong decision.’ I’m the top (high school) running back, how is a linebacker beating me in agilities?

Clinton Portis (junior, running back): We competed in everything! We all wanted to be the fastest player, we all wanted to be the best basketball player, we all wanted to be the highest jumper, we all wanted to be the best at everything we did.

Antrel Rolle (freshman, cornerback): The way we practiced, it was insane. I’ll be honest with you, it was literally insane. You would think that we did not like each other, on the field, off the field.

Mike Rumph (senior, cornerback): It was just a machine. It was a machine but we were just so afraid to have failure.

Curtis Johnson (wide receivers coach): Andreu Swasey said this all the time: The players were always around. They were always around us, always around the office. It’d be Friday night, Saturday morning, they’d be around, they’d want to want watch more film, and we couldn’t get rid of these guys for nothing. Their whole lives revolved around this little football team.

Mark Stoops (defensive backs coach): Soon after I was hired by Larry (as defensive backs coach in 2001) I was in my office working on a Saturday and I saw one of my players come by, then I saw another one. Over the course of the morning several guys stopped up and were talking. And I thought it was odd. I asked one of them, ‘What are you doing here on a Saturday morning?’ And one of them just looked at me and tilted his head and was like ‘Coach, this is just what we do.’

Mike Rumph (senior, cornerback): People didn’t see the Saturdays where we met up as a team (in the off-season). Or the meetings we’d have 6 in the morning, where there were no coaches there.

Brett Romberg (junior, center): Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m., no matter how hung-over you were, you are in the field.

Mark Stoops (defensive backs coach): Over the course of the morning several guys stopped up and were talking. And I thought it was odd. I asked one of them, ‘What are you doing here on a Saturday morning?’ And one of them just looked at me and tilted his head and was like ‘Coach, this is just what we do.’

Brett Romberg (junior, center): Granted, you didn’t have to be there. At any other school a guy might show up at 8:05 with his shoes untied or something. Not at Miami. No, if you didn’t show up at 7:55 ready to go, you got shunned. Nobody wants to talk to you, because you think you’re so much bigger than the group. There were never any egos.

Mark Stoops (defensive backs coach): They did seven-on-seven with each other, the o-line and d-line worked basically the whole year round. That’s just what they did; it was part of their culture… I was blown away by the player’s self-motivation and how great the leaders were there.

Don Soldinger (running backs coach): One time, Frank Gore called me at 3:30 a.m. to ask me about pass protections.

Frank Gore (freshman, running back): He said ‘If you need help, don’t be afraid to call.’ So I was studying my plays and I called him and told him to quiz me.

Andreu Swasey (strength and conditioning coach): Who stood out as leaders and workers from that group? Can I say ‘The team?’ I had so many guys.

Curtis Johnson (wide receivers coach): It started during 2000, but the players, they really policed themselves. We had no altercations, we had no nothing.

Ed Reed (senior, safety): We told coach, ‘If anything happens with the players on the team coach, we got it. Don’t you worry about it.’

D.J. Williams (sophomore, linebacker): As far as punishment, that was all done within the locker room.

Andreu Swasey (strength and conditioning coach): If you didn’t make your times, it wasn’t pretty for you. And I didn’t have anything to do with it! I did everything to help you, I might try to save you, but the rest of the guys would be like ‘Coach, you might not want to see this.’

Phillip Buchanon (junior, cornerback): The coaches aren’t gonna handle this. This is our locker room. We’re going to handle this.

Andreu Swasey (strength and conditioning coach): They handled their own discipline. So I’d start talking and Ed Reed would cut me off, like ‘I don’t mean any disrespect…’ then he’d handle the lecture for me. And I’m like ‘Damn, ok.’

Curtis Johnson (wide receivers coach): I remember, Sean Taylor was a freshman and I was watching him right at the beginning of two-a-days and Sean, he just didn’t run (as) fast (as he could) or something. And the coach went to get on him, and before the coach could get there Ed Reed just jumped on him; Sean was almost crying. It was the worst thing you could ever see, but the coaches didn’t have to do any of that, the players did it all. When that happens, I knew we were well on our way.

Najeh Davenport (senior, fullback): This may seem bad to say, but my senior year, Coach Coker was the head coach, Coach Chud was the offensive coordinator, but once we learned the system, that’s all she wrote.

Maurice Sikes (sophomore, safety): (Coker) knew how great of a team he had. He had been there with us. We had great leadership on our team, we had great coaches, great assistants, great starters, great back-ups. We knew what we had, and knew we didn’t need much tinkering.

Brett Romberg (junior, center): Butch Davis had done a great job steering that ship and doing a great job in building it, and all we needed was somebody to maintain the animal. Coker was the perfect fit.

Maurice Sikes (sophomore, safety): He had a very good understanding of the fact that he had a masterpiece. All he had to do was take it to the damn museum.

Najeh Davenport (senior, fullback): We were teaching each other, coaching each other, watching film together. We were destined to win the National Championship. 

Randy Shannon (defensive coordinator): I felt like we had a bunch of guys who had a common goal. They wanted to win a championship.
Aaron is a contributor at You can follow him on Twitter @Aaron_Torres, and be sure to check for the full article on Wednesday.

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D.J. Williams returns with 'a lot to prove'

BOURBONNAIS — By now, the rehabilitation process has become boring to D.J. Williams. 

That’s how the 11-year veteran linebacker described his latest stint of having to rehab a ruptured left pectoral muscle that ended his season after just six games. Williams, 32, has always dealt with a handful of injuries throughout his career, having missed games due to injury in three separate seasons.

Even in his first year as a Bear, Williams, who spent nine seasons with the Broncos, dealt with a nagging calf injury throughout July and August of 2013. In addition to that, he caught bronchitis leading up to the Week Five game against the Saints before ultimately rupturing his pectoral muscle towards the end of the third quarter against the Giants in Week Six. 

But Williams sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Everyday you just keep grinding and going ahead,” Williams said. “I’m very eager (to get back). I know I have a lot to prove to a lot of people, especially climbing up in age at 32. But I’m in the greatest shape I’ve been in in a long time.”

Williams said being in great shape involved returning to his rookie weight, where he weighed 250 pounds out of the University of Miami.

Williams will also play middle linebacker, a position that he was brought in for last season and again when he re-signed to a one-year deal. Williams, who has played at every other linebacker position, said he doesn’t mind and loves playing the middle.

“I don’t want to say our defense is simple, but it highlights what I do pretty well,” Williams said. “It allows me to run sideline to sideline and play defense inside out. We play Cover-2 a lot where guys are breaking and making plays.”

The 32-year old enjoyed success in his limited time in 2013. Williams earned two sacks, which was still the second-most for the Bears’ linebackers, despite missing 10 games.

However, not only is Williams out to redeem himself, but he also added the defense is out to make up for the disastrous year they had as a group. The defense ranked 30th in total yards allowed and dead last in run defense.

Williams said the team is ready to get out and start tackling opponents. The Bears' first preseason game is Friday against the Eagles.

“Playing one of the opponents that I say personally embarrassed [us] last season, we’re eager to see how far we’ve come and still see what we have to do,” Williams said. “I want to shut them out. That’s how you approach every game, whether it's preseason, regular season or practice.

“I just want to see everybody beat their guy and get to the ball, be energetic and follow the plan."

While he wants the defense to succeed, Williams also has to prove himself to his coaches. Bears head coach Marc Trestman has stressed that competition has been the theme of training camp and Williams is in one that could be considered the closest.

When the preseason depth chart was released, Williams and second-year linebacker Jon Bostic were listed as co-starters for the middle linebacker spot. In camp, Bostic has been the starting nickel linebacker, with Williams taking the first-team reps with the base defense.

“It kind of reminds me of me and [former All-Pro Broncos linebacker] Al Wilson when I first came in the league,” Williams said. “It’s a competition and I want to play as many reps as possible, and know that he does as well.

“But you know, it’s a brotherhood and we consider each other family, It doesn’t matter who’s out there, we’ll both be rooting for each other.”

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Bostic pushing D.J. Williams for starting job

When the Chicago Bears re-signed D.J. Williams in March, the expectation was that the veteran would assume the starting middle linebacker job that he held prior to a season-ending torn left pectoral muscle in October.

That won't necessarily be the case.

Williams has been splitting first-team reps with 2013 second-round draft pick Jon Bostic in OTAs. Even in non-contact practices, Bostic is "making a strong impression," CSN Chicago's John Mullin reported Tuesday.

It's an interesting battle to monitor.

Williams turns 32 in July and no longer has the range he did with the Broncos last decade.

Bostic made splash plays in preseason action last summer, but was exposed as not ready for prime time during the Bears' seven-weak stretch of historically inept run defense from late October through mid-December.

There were even postseason whispers that Bostic could be moved to the outside. He will have to prove that he can shed blocks with authority and take the correct route to the ball if he's going to displace Williams in Mel Tucker's revamped defense.

It's one thing to impress the coaching staff in June drills. It's quite another to maintain that level of production once the games start to count.

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Chicago Bears Re-Sign DJ Williams to 1-Year Deal

The Chicago Bears have agreed to terms on a 1-year deal with veteran linebacker DJ Williams, per Josina Anderson:

Text from LB D.J. Williams: "I've agreed to sign with the Bears."

For everyone rushing Shea McClellin or Jon Bostic to the middle linebacker spot, not so fast.  DJ is in the house!

Williams was brought in last offseason as a stopgap for the “retiring” Brian Urlacher.  The Bears drafted Jonathan Bostic in the second round, presumably to play middle linebacker, but after part of the season at the Mike, Phil Emery acknowledged that Bostic’s strength might be on the outside.  I suspect he’s going to study at the hand of Lance Briggs and replace Lance when he’s done with the Bears.

Williams was just starting to hit his stride with the Bears when a torn pectoral muscle that cost him the rest of last season after just just a handful of games with the Bears last season.  They must have seen enough in him to bring him back on another 1-year deal, terms not yet disclosed.

It’s not the sexiest pickup for the Bears, but it’s another solid addition to their defense that will create a ton of competition at the linebacker position.

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D.J. Williams out for season with muscle tear

LAKE FOREST, Ill., Oct. 11 (UPI) -- The Chicago Bears said linebacker D.J. Williams will miss the rest of the season with a torn muscle, sustained in Thursday's win over the New York Giants.

Williams left the game after tearing his left pectoral muscle in the third quarter of the Bears' 27-21 victory.

Rookie Jon Bostic went in for Williams and will take over at middle linebacker.

Bostic, a second-round choice out of Florida, started the first three games of the season for Chicago while Williams recovered from a calf injury sustained during the pre-season.

Williams signed with the Bears in March after eight seasons with the Denver Broncos.

He had 27 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble in six games this season.

Chicago is 4-2, in first place in the NFC North. The Bears next play the Washington Redskins on the road Oct. 20.

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DJ Williams: In the Bears he trusts

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- D.J. Williams is talking barbecue, business and football, but the conversation keeps coming back to the issue of trust.

Williams said he trusts his three buddies from the University of Miami with whom he has partnered in two soon-to-be Brother Jimmy's BBQ franchises.

He trusts the Bears after giving him a fresh start and then keeping their faith in him despite a calf injury that kept him out all of training camp. And he trusts that Bears fans will give him a chance after his final two years in Denver, which have him grateful to still be playing.

"I think me leaving Denver was the perfect situation," said Williams, suspended for nine games by the NFL last season for two separate incidents dating back to 2010. "The first thing for me is always to be somewhere where people want you. [The Broncos] weren't interested in me anymore. I really wasn't into what was going on there and how I was treated that year I came back from my suspension, so I think it worked out well. Everybody got a good part of the deal."

In March, Williams signed a one-year, incentive-laden, nonguaranteed contract with a base value of $900,000 to replace Brian Urlacher at middle linebacker. But he may be gone before Bears fans have a chance to get to know and trust him.

A former first-round pick of the Broncos, Williams, 31, seemed to hit his stride in Week 3 at Pittsburgh with two sacks, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble, and he has 14 tackles in four games. The Steelers game, said his mother Sherri Gonzales, was a key in her son's comeback of sorts, and she heard it in his voice afterward.”

"How he looked on the field in that third game is exactly who he is and what he is, and no matter what anyone says, they can't take that from him," she said. "In his head and in his heart, that's who he is. ... That was a long time in coming and he definitely deserved that game. He proved to everybody he deserves to be in the NFL and he deserves to be a Bear for the rest of his career."

Gonzales said things got so bad in Denver after the suspensions -- one was for violating the league's banned-substances policy and the other after a jury found him guilty of driving while impaired in a case that dated back to 2010 -- that he was stopped indiscriminately by police in his own gated community.

Williams said, however, that his love of the game never wavered.

"Personally, I'm not bitter," he said. "But seeing the things that happen on and off the field, it's a crazy business. A lot of the stories that came out about me -- I did some wrong things but a lot of the truth was missed, and in those situations, I just decided to be quiet. The story is already out. But once you get out on the field and you start laughing and joking around with the guys, you realize why you continue to wake up every morning and put your body through it."

Gonzales was a former junior Olympian in track, a college softball player, and a figure competitor in physique exhibition events (stressing muscle definition over size, unlike bodybuilding). She said D.J.'s father was also well-built and that their son is a product of his parents.

"There were articles when D.J. was in 10th grade, with reporters calling him a freak of nature because he was so big. There were pictures of him where he looked like a grown man. He's just always been big and athletic," said Gonzales, who said her son excelled in football, baseball, track and basketball, dunking at age 13 at Jason Kidd's basketball camp.

Williams wanted to be a running back and played fullback his freshman year at Miami before switching to linebacker, where he was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award with teammate Jonathan Vilma his junior year and again his senior year.

His friendships with Vilma, now with New Orleans, and fellow linebacker Jon Beason, now with Carolina, expanded into a business partnership.

"We made sure they were good investments, nothing ridiculous," said Williams, who -- like the other two -- owns a 17 percent piece of the restaurants and is also a part of a "very small investment" in some lounges. "Nothing that would hurt my bank account too much if it didn't pan out. I think that's the biggest mistake most guys make."

Williams, who said he would also like to own a gym one day, speaks to his partners at least once a week, and each occupies a different role in the business.”

"I like to say I'm the party and event coordinator," he said. "Jonathan Vilma does the books. Restaurants and clubs are the worst things in the world because they flip-flop so many times, and you have to have someone you trust watching the money when you're not there. There are so many intangibles where you can lose money, but this one is kind of a family-oriented thing -- basically four guys that went to school together and the owner who really doesn't want to tarnish his name, so we've got a good crew."

In August 2012, the restaurant received national attention when a sign in the window reading "Do Not Serve This Man" (with a picture of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell) was photographed and spread via Twitter.

"One of the managers, I think, put that up, and Vilma and I got a lot of attention for it," Williams said. "I was in training camp with the Broncos and Vilma was suspended." Vilma was a central figure in the Saints' bounty scandal that led to the suspension of four players, but the suspensions were eventually vacated by former commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who was appointed by Goodell to review the penalties. Vilma filed a defamation lawsuit against Goodell, but it was later dismissed in federal court.

"Once it hit the media, it made it seem like we put it up," Williams said. "At the time, Vilma was beefing with the commissioner and I stick with my friends. But the truth was, neither of us put it up, and it was only up for one day when the picture was taken."

That loyalty and trust between friends, Williams said, is nothing new for him.

"I've pretty much been that way my whole life," he said. "I really only talk to people I know. I do have an outgoing personality, but it's only outgoing with people I know. If I don't know you, I really don't talk to you. There are only so many hours in the day and only so much time, and I'd rather waste it with people I have genuine relationships with."

His best friend, he said, is still a guy he met when the two were 9 years old.

"He's been everywhere," Williams said. "He came to Miami when I was in college. He used to come to Denver all the time. He's already been to Chicago twice. I'm his kids' godfather and vice versa. He considers my mom his mom. And besides that, the only guys I hang out with are guys who I went to college with. I doubt I'm going to make any new friends in Chicago unless they're teammates.

"It's a guy thing. I think after around 21, guys don't make friends. Girls can do that, be in the bathroom, 'Your shoes are cute,' come out and exchange numbers. Men really don't do that."

Williams, however, has forged friendships quickly with his teammates, including rookie Jon Bostic, whose solid play while Williams missed all of training camp had some Bears fans calling for the second-round pick to start at linebacker when the season began.

"D.J. has helped me since day one. I'm real close with him," said Bostic, who has also sought Williams' advice on future business plans. "He'll come out and say, 'Hey, did you see that player whatever?' ... He's played in this league 10 years, so there's a lot I can learn from him."

Williams said it meant a lot to him that Bears coaches stuck with him and started him when the season began.

"We communicated the whole time, and they told me if I came back and I was healthy, the spot was still mine," he said. "It was a good feeling."

Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said the decision was not a difficult one.

"[Williams is] a veteran payer; he has a tremendous amount of experience, has a high football IQ," Tucker said. "He's a good football player, and he's been that for a long time. We had him before his injury and we saw that. He was that. And we felt once he got healthy that he'd eventually get back to full speed and continue in his development in this system.

"I really like D.J. He's a great guy to be around. He loves football, loves to talk football, has a lot of experience in a lot of different schemes. He's excellent with his teammates, always willing to help. He asks good questions and he works hard."

As for replacing a legend like Urlacher, Williams trusts that his teammates and Bears fans will know that it won't get in his way.

"I don't think about it," he said. "That's just [added] pressure and something good for talk radio. I just try to come out and perform, make sure I'm a solid player for the defense. It wouldn't matter to me if I had my best career stats if we did poorly. To me, I'm just filling in that spot, filling in the void."

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D.J. Williams’ job: Slow Adrian Peterson

D.J. Williams has played in 128 NFL games but has shared the field with Adrian Peterson fewer times than a Soldier Field rent-a-cop.

While many members of the Bears’ veteran defense are used to seeing the Minnesota Vikings twice a year, Williams has faced their running back exactly once in his regular-season career. In 2007, the rookie gained 36 yards on 11 carries against Williams’ former team, the Denver Broncos.

“I’m excited to play against him — he’s considered to be one of the best backs in the league — and just go against him,” Williams, signed in March to replace Brian Urlacher at middle linebacker, said Wednesday after practice at Halas Hall. “Not physically, myself, but the whole defense.”

Fairly or not, Williams will be compared to Urlacher against a power runner such as Peterson. But the Bears swear a group effort is the key Sunday to stopping the man who last year ran for 2,097 yards, nine shy of the all-time record.

Cornerback Charles Tillman said the Bears need to “population-tackle.” Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said “everyone’s got to do their job” against “one of the best backs to ever play the game.”

“You very seldom see the first guy bring him down,” said strong-side linebacker James Anderson, who faced Peterson three times with the Carolina Panthers. “When you’ve got a guy that can make the first guy miss, he can get yards after contact. It makes for a very difficult tackle.”

That it does.

“I’m sure most corners don’t want to tackle Adrian Peterson,” said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, a Bears cornerback from 1981 to ’86. “Nor did they want to have to tackle Walter [Payton].”

Group effort worked for the Detroit Lions last Sunday.

Peterson ran a ridiculous counter to the left side for a 78-yard touchdown on his first touch of the season — he sat out the entire preseason — but was bottled up afterward, gaining 15 yards on his last 17 carries.

The reason: Detroit put eight defenders in the box on 15 of his first 16 tries.

“He’ll be all we can handle,” coach Marc Trestman said. “The guys here know that. They’ve played against him enough to know that.”

Not so with Williams, who started Sunday despite missing all four preseason games with a right calf injury. He made seven tackles — four were credited after re-evaluating tape — on 42 defensive snaps.

More telling: His backup, Jon Bostic, didn’t appear on defense.

Williams’ conditioning “was better than we thought,” Trestman said.

“I think he’s going to just get better,” he said.

Williams is used to change — Denver had seven defensive coordinators in his last seven years there — so he adjusted to the Bears’ preseason scheme without taking the field.

“It was frustrating because I still gotta prove that I can play,” Williams said. “I wanted to see the guys actually see me play.”

Williams thought he “flew around pretty well” against the Bengals.

“Coming off a month and a half of basically doing nothing, just practicing, the game’s going to feel a lot faster,” he said. “I felt I made the right keys. I didn’t do anything to hurt the defense.

“But, you know, each week you’ve got to pick it up and progress and play better the next week.”

Even if that week features Peterson, fresh off one of the great seasons in NFL history.

Like Williams, Trestman doesn’t need to see Peterson in person — he hasn’t — to know what the Bears are facing.

“I don’t have to look at the tape to evaluate him,” Trestman said. “He’s exactly what you see every time he touches the ball.”

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2013 Most Important Bears: No. 7 D.J. Williams

While some are simply assuming the Bears defense will take a step backwards with Lovie Smith and Brian Urlacher gone, it’s important to remember that nine starters from a solid group return this season.

That said, without No. 54, the defense certainly will have a different feel this season.

Stepping in for Urlacher in the middle is newcomer D.J. Williams, who is a proven NFL linebacker, but comes in with his fair share of baggage. Williams has two DUIs on his record and was suspended for six games last season after failing a league drug test. The Denver Broncos released Williams in March and the Bears hope a change of scenery will pay off.

Given the physical state Urlacher was in last season, Williams is almost certainly an upgrade in the middle athletically, but that doesn’t mean the Bears won’t miss Urlacher. Lance Briggs will take over the play-calling on the defensive side, so that should take some of the pressure off Williams, but he still needs to deliver with a big season. For as much criticism as Urlacher took last year, the season went downhill after he was lost for the season. Williams should be an upgrade over Nick Roach (who filled in for Urlacher in the middle), but he needs to prove he’s able to be a consisten sponge against the run while also dropping back in coverage when necessary.

Simply put: this is the biggest question mark on the defense and while there’s optimism Williams will be able to fill the void in the middle, it’s far from a guarantee.

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Getting to Know You: New Bear D.J. Williams

The Bears have several new players this year. As we get closer to training camp, Grizzly Detail will help you get to know the Bears. Today, we look at a new Bear who has the tough task of replacing a legend: D.J. Williams.

Who is he? D.J. Williams

Where did he go to school? Miami, which is also the alma mater of Devin Hester. He was a member of the Hurricanes' 2001-2002 national championship team. 

Where did he play before Chicago? With the Denver Broncos, though he didn't play much last season because of suspensions' due to a failed drug test. The Broncos suspended him six games, and the NFL added three more. He played both outside and middle linebacker for Denver.

What will he bring to the Bears? The reason why Williams is a surprising signing is that it's hard to say what he will bring based on his recent performance. He had 17 tackles in six games last season. Previously, he was a reliable linebacker that could get to the quarterback and force fumbles. Those traits will help him fit in well on the Bears' defense, which emphasizes forcing turnovers.

What are his downsides? He has had many off-the-field issues. Williams has had two DUIs, plus the drug suspension. This is not particularly confidence-inspiring. He's signed for a one-year contract, so if his demons show up again, it won't be tough for the Bears to can him.

Who is he replacing? A player you may remember by the name of Brian Urlacher. Williams is in a tough position because he is replacing a Bears' legend.

What number will he wear? 58, which was worn by Wilber Marshall and Jerry Muckensturm, one of the best-named Bears of all time.
Anything else to know about him? He's not afraid to wear a baby carrier.

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D.J. Williams "just trying to be myself"

D.J. Williams is the new guy in town, even though the 10-year veteran linebacker already has made a name for himself around the NFL as an aggressive tackler with the Denver Broncos.

When the Chicago Bears moved on from their longtime relationship with future Hall of Fame middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, the urgency heightened for Williams to fill the void.

“Coming in here, I am not trying to be him. Just trying to be myself,” Williams said Tuesday following the team’s first day of minicamp in the Walter Payton Center. “I'm just trying to blend in and fit in with the guys and help them win games. I don’t think any player ever tries to be like anybody else.”

Williams, 30, played just seven games last season because of a suspension for failing a mandatory league drug test.

“It’s a rebirth (with the Bears). Last year I didn’t have the greatest year,” Williams acknowledged. “I got suspended multiple games. I get the opportunity now to play a full season and just get out there and play some ball.”

The once familiar linebacking trio of Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Nick Roach now has only Briggs returning this season.

“Lance has been a staple here for many years, a great player, a Hall of Fame player. He has a lot of knowledge and he is a play-maker. Whenever I do have a question, he is able to answer for me,” said Williams, who has played in both a 3-4 and 4-3 defense in the past.

“Most (teams) play the same defenses, just different terminology. But I'm playing a different position. I played (middle) linebacker before. Now I just have to get used to the reads and the position.”

With a new team and coaching staff, Williams is confident it will not take him long to get up to speed with the Bears’ way of doing things.

“Things are going pretty well. I’ve gotten in a few extra days with the coaches and the defense,” Williams said. “Football is football."

Williams, who started his college career as a fullback at Miami, was drafted in the first round by the Broncos in 2004. He has 20.5 career sacks. In 2007 as a middle linebacker he was credited with 106 tackles and in 2010 he had 94 tackles and 5.5 sacks as a left inside linebacker.

“I'm a physical player," he said. "I run to the ball and cover (on pass plays). I consider myself able to do just about everything.”

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D.J. Williams calls replacing No. 54 'a great challenge'

New Bears middle linebacker D.J. Williams officially signed his one-year deal with the team just the other day. He said he's ready for the "challenge" of replacing longtime linebacker Brian Urlacher.

"I see it as a great challenge," Williams said in a statement released by his publicist on Monday. "I think it's a great opportunity for me to get to Chicago and play. I'm not trying to be anybody else or make anyone forget about Urlacher. He's a great player, a Hall of Fame player, and a guy I looked up to. I just can't wait to get there and gel with the team and do my best."

Williams' one-year deal could reach $1.75 million. He was signed just two days after the Bears announced they couldn't reach an "accord" with Urlacher.

Williams, who turns 31 in July, was a tackling machine for the Denver Broncos since being drafted in the first round in 2004 out of Miami. In his career, he has 816 tackles, 20½ sacks, 13 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, 38 pass breakups and two interceptions.

The nine-year veteran also spoke to the Bears' website on Monday.

"[Urlacher] was a great player," Williams said. "I watched him as a young player in college and was able to be in the league with him. I'm not trying to fill his shoes, even though I probably will be playing his position. Our games are different, so I'm not trying to be him. I'm just trying to be me."

Williams said he feels privileged to be joining a franchise with a history of defensive success and known for its star linebackers.

"To come here and be part of a team that loves defense in a city that loves defense," Williams said. "I'm just grateful and I love the opportunity. I'm excited about it."

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D.J WIliams a Low-Risk, High-Reward Signing

When the Bears broke off negotiations with Brian Urlacher and signed D.J. Williams, you weren't the only Bears fan who wondered what the heck they were thinking at Halas Hall. Though he was aging, Urlacher was a known entity. Williams, on the other hand, spent much of his 2012 as a Bronco on the bench because of two different suspensions.

Why would they make such a move?

Now, the particulars of his contract have come out, and it's clear why the Bears went with Williams. Financially, he is a low-risk, high-reward player.

Not one cent of Williams' contract is guaranteed. If he makes the team, he gets a base salary of $900,000. He also gets a bonus for every game he makes the 53-man roster and another bonus for every game he makes the 46-man, active roster. He can make a total of $750,000 in bonuses if he makes every game, and another $100,000 for off-season workouts.

It's simple. If Williams wants to make money, he will perform. He can't be suspended or fall behind. He knows he has one job in Chicago. It's not replacing Urlacher, just being the best he can at middle linebacker.

"Perform; that's it," he said to the Bears' website. "If you go out there and perform and do well and help your team win, fans will love you. If you go out there and stink it up, you're going to get that type of criticism."

He also said his problems from last season helped him realize how important football is to him.

"It was frustrating. It also humbles you and shows you how much you really do love the game and how important it is to you."

Now, he'll have the chance to show his love on the field in a season that is basically a one-year audition for Williams. He can play well, make a lot of money and show he is worthy of an NFL contract.

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Bears taking chance on DJ Williams

The Bears are gambling that troubled D.J. Williams, a first-round pick in 2004, can replace eight-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher — at least for this year.

It's a fairly safe financial bet for the Bears because none of the money in Williams' $1.75 million ($900,000 base), one-year deal is guaranteed. The former Broncos starter, 30, will have to avoid additional transgressions to get paid and get his career back on track. He was suspended for nine games last season, losing six games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs and three additional games for a second arrest on charges of driving while ability-impaired.

The 6-foot-1, 242-pound Williams was due to make $6 million if the Broncos, who drafted him 17th overall, had not cut him last week. He started just one game last season and played in only seven. But the former Miami Hurricane has started 115 games in the NFL, at weak-side, strong-side and middle linebacker. He's expected to play in the middle for the Bears.

"We are happy to welcome D.J. to the Bears and are excited to start working with him," Bears general manager Phil Emery said on the team's website. "This is a great opportunity for D.J. to restart his career after coming off suspension.

"We see a player that has very good athletic upside who can contribute immediately at Mike (middle) linebacker. He is also a versatile player who has played both outside linebacker positions, giving us flexibility in the draft."

Along with quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Brandon Marshall, Williams is the third former Denver starter to join the Bears.

While he lacks Urlacher's size, Williams has excellent range and instincts, which allow him to make plays sideline to sideline in the running game and to be effective dropping into pass coverage, an Urlacher strength when he was in his prime.

Urlacher and the Bears decided Wednesday to part company on less-than-ideal terms when the team refused to offer him more than $2 million on a one-year contract.

Urlacher said it was only "30 seconds" after his agent was told by the Bears they would not re-sign him that the team announced it on Twitter.

"I would have appreciated a call from, maybe not (general manager) Phil (Emery), but (team chairman) George (McCaskey) or somebody else I've been around," Urlacher said Friday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on WMVP 1000-AM. "I haven't been around Phil; he's been here for one year, so I don't know him all that well, but (a call) from somebody else in the organization I've been around for a long time (would have been nice)."

From 2004-11, Urlacher had 601 tackles, according to STATS LLC; Williams had 611, the most in the NFL. Both players had 20½ sacks over those eight years, and Urlacher had 50 stuffs, while Williams had 41½. A stuff, according to STATS LLC, is a tackle for no gain or a loss. Only three players had 600 tackles, 40 stuffs and 20 sacks from 2004-11. The other was Karlos Dansby, who was cut by the Dolphins last week.

The Bears are still expected to give serious consideration to selecting a linebacker in the draft. Weak-side linebacker Lance Briggs is 32, Williams is 30 and the Bears have lost linebackers Nick Roach (to the Raiders) and Geno Hayes (Jaguars) in free agency.

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Bears sign D.J. Williams

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears signed former Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams to a one-year contract Friday.

After offering longtime middle linebacker Brian Urlacher a one-year, $2 million contract that he refused, the Bears got Williams for a base salary of $900,000, the Chicago Tribune reported. He can earn a maximum of $1.75 million if he reaches all his incentives.

"We are happy to welcome D.J. to the Bears and are excited to start working with him," Bears general manager Phil Emery said in a statement. "This is a great opportunity for D.J. to restart his career after coming off suspension for part of the 2012 season. We see a player that has very good athletic upside who can contribute immediately at 'Mike' (middle) linebacker. He is also a versatile player who has played both outside linebacker positions, giving us flexibility in the draft."

Williams spent nine years in Denver where he started 115 regular-season games and registered a career-best 141 tackles in 2007. The 30-year-old veteran has played both middle and outside linebacker.

He appeared in just seven games last season with one start after being suspended nine games by the NFL for two separate incidents. He was suspended the first six games of the 2012 season for violating the league's banned-substances policy after the league said he supplied a "non-human" urine sample during a drug test.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell tacked on an additional three-game suspension after Williams was found in violation of the league's substance abuse policy when a jury convicted him of driving while impaired in a case that dated to November 2010. That incident was the second time Williams had been arrested under the suspicion of driving while impaired. He previously pleaded guilty to a charge in 2005, and the Broncos stripped him of his captainship.

The Broncos released Williams in the offseason to avoid paying him a $6 million salary in 2013.

The Bears had a clear need at linebacker after the club allowed Urlacher and fellow starter Nick Roach to leave via free agency. The Bears broke off contract negotiations with Urlacher on Wednesday.

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Broncos Release D.J. Williams After 9 Seasons

DENVER (CBS4/AP) – D.J. Williams is no longer a Bronco. The team released him on Monday, a day before the start of the NFL’s free agency period.

Williams was tied with Champ Bailey as the longest tenured member of the team. Williams, an alum of the University of Miami, was drafted by the Broncos in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft with the No. 17 pick.

Williams had to sit out the first nine gameslb_icon1 of last season while serving two consecutive suspensions. One six game suspension was for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs and the other was for an alcohol-related arrest.

Linebackers Wesley Woodyard and Keith Brooking took on bigger roles in Williams’ absence.

Over the years with the Broncos Williams started at the weakside, middle, strongside and inside linebacker.

“We appreciate the contributions made by D.J. Williams during his time with the Broncos. He was a solid player with this team for a number of years, showing a lot of versatility at linebacker. Our organization wishes D.J. all the best going forward,” John Elway said in a prepared statement.

Williams turns 31 this summer and is sure to draw interest on the open market but he is coming off a season in which he collected just 14 tackles in seven games and only made one start because of his two suspensions that cost him about $4 million in salary and relegated him to playing on special teams and in sub packages upon his return in November.

The Broncos released the following statistics about Williams’ career to date in the NFL:

- 127 career regular-season games
- 115 starts
- 886 tackles (673 solo)
- 20.5 sacks
- Two interceptions
- 41 passes defensed
- 14 forced fumbles
- Seven fumble recoveries.
- Opened five-of-six postseason contestslb_icon1 for the Broncos, contributing 40 tackles (23 solo), 0.5 sacks (3.5 avg.) and three passes defensed
- One of just five NFL players during the last nine seasons to post at least 800 tackles and 20 sacks

The Broncos also released third quarterback Caleb Hanie, who didn’t take a single snap in his one season in Denver last year behind Peyton Manning and his backup, rookie Brock Osweiler.

The Broncos also have asked Pro Bowl defensive end Elvis Dumervil to take a pay cut. If not, he’ll be traded or released before Saturday when his $12 million salary for 2013 becomes guaranteed. Dumervil is also due $10 million in 2014 and $8 million in 2015.

If Dumervil follows Williams out the door, the Broncos will have some big shoes to fill on a defense that was one of the NFL’s stingiest last season.

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D.J. Williams unlikely to return to Broncos next season

Q: Plenty of people chime in about which free agents or draft picks the Broncos might sign, but ... which Broncos players do you see leaving this season, from retirement, free agency, trades or cuts?

A: Jim, certainly when you talk about familiar faces who are expected to play elsewhere in the coming season, linebacker D.J. Williams comes to mind for the Broncos.

Williams is headed into his 10th season. He has had some off-the-field troubles. His playing time has diminished. And he has had knee and shoulder injuries along the way. Williams is also headed into the last year of the five-year, $32 million deal the team signed him to in 2009.

A look at the figures shows his contract also has an $8.08 million salary-cap hit that includes a $6 million base salary. Those figures are far too big for a player who was on the field for spot duty only last season after he returned from back-to-back suspensions that kept him out of nine games.

If Williams is released — the Broncos will try to see if there is a trade market for him first — there would be some "dead" money from the contract on their salary cap for this season (charges that count when the player is no longer on the roster). Williams would still count $2.0825 million against the cap if he were released, but they would still pick up $6 million in salary-cap room along the way.

The Broncos aren't in a position to release anyone they see as a key contributor because they have managed their cap situation well, even with a signing like Peyton Manning last season.

They have very little dead money on the books for 2013 — just under $1 million worth of dead-money charges.

All of that means the Broncos can make football decisions when looking at their roster instead of being forced to make only salary-cap decisions. They can re-sign the free agents they'd like to keep.

At some point they would approach veterans like Champ Bailey and Elvis Dumervil about re-configuring their contracts if they feel like they need some additional salary-cap relief in some way. The Broncos have already talked to Dumervil's representatives. Dumervil ($13.623 million) and Bailey ($10.5 million) have the second- and third-highest cap figures on the team, respectively, after Manning.

Bailey's deal runs through 2014 and includes a roster bonus this year for $500,000. Dumervil's deal runs through 2015.

Overall, they have 12 unrestricted free agents. Among that list not expected to be back is defensive tackle Ty Warren. Warren played just five plays with most of two seasons spent on injured reserve.

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D.J. Williams isn’t expected back with Broncos

Linebacker D.J. Williams has had a long run with the Broncos, but it appears to be coming to an end after nine seasons.

Mike Klis of the Denver Post expects that Williams will be a starting linebacker in 2013, but that there’s no chance that he’ll be filling that role on the Broncos defense. Williams is set to make $6 million (and count the same against the salary cap) in the 2013 season, a number Klis believes is too big for a Broncos team that moved on without Williams while missed nine games in 2012 serving two different suspensions.

It’s expected that the Broncos will try to trade Williams when the league opens for business on March 12, although the $6 million salary probably doesn’t look any better to other teams than it does to the Broncos. If they can’t swing a trade, the Broncos are expected to cut Williams loose before they start their offseason program in mid-April.

Von Miller, Wesley Woodyard and Nate Irving are the projected starters at linebacker for Denver in 2013.

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Broncos Ready To Part Ways With DJ Williams?

There also is the matter of middle linebacker, where Keith Brooking is 37 and an unrestricted free agent. The Broncos are poised to either part ways with D.J. Williams or ask him to take a significant pay cut.

Williams was a situational player only after he returned from nine games' worth of suspensions. He is due to make $6 million in the upcoming season. That's too rich for his output.

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D.J. Williams Drops By Sims Fayola International Academy For A Visit

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams brightened the day of studentsicon1 at a Denver school.

Williams visited Sims Fayola International Academy Wednesday morning. The all-boys academy aims to help minority and low-income males.

Williams has been a long time supporter of the schoolicon1. He is currently working with Sims Fayola on the construction of a new library facility.

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