The Cardinals released four players Monday, including running back Ryan Williams.
Ryan Williams was a surprise second-round pick in 2011, a running back that hopefully was going to create where not many Cardinals could create from the position.
Instead, an injury-riddled tenure came to an end Monday when Williams was among four players cut following the draft.
Williams, center John Estes, linebacker Kenny Rowe and tight end Brett Brackett were those released on the same days rookies were to arrive. It was not an unexpected end for Williams, who quietly was frustrated last season after sitting inactive for all 16 games.
Williams was never activated for a game despite being healthy all season – even when Rashard Mendenhall had to sit out with
injuries. The 2011 second-round pick never recovered from missing so much time in preseason, which nearly got him cut then and left him on the outside looking in.
Williams was also set to be the highest-paid running back on the team, something that probably didn't fit his status on the depth chart. The Cardinals will carry about $535,000 in dead salary cap money with Williams' release, but recoup about $1.06 million on the cap.
Mendenhall retired, but when the Cardinals were able to come to terms with former Steelers running back Jonathan Dwyer and are high on second-year back Stepfan Taylor. Dwyer had just 49 carries in 15 games last season, but averaged 4.0 yards a carry (197 yards). The year before Dwyer did the same. In six starts over 13 games, he had a career-high 623 yards on 156 carries.
With second-year man Andre Ellington having taken hold of the starter job – and running backs Tim Cornett of UNLV and NAU's Zach Bauman reportedly arriving through the undrafted rookie route – Williams didn't really have a spot anymore.
The Cardinals are expected to release their full list of undrafted rookie signings later Monday afternoon.
Williams' rookie year ended in the preseason when he ruptured his patella tendon. His second season ended after five games when he fractured his shoulder, and later Williams acknowledged he felt his knee wasn't fully healthy anyway.
Williams had further knee issues in training camp last season, missing almost all the practices and falling far down the depth chart. He never recovered.