Is there a player on the Seahawks considered more important to the team moving forward than Mike Williams?
With the team deciding to give him a three-year, $11.2 million contract extension as a present on his 27th birthday Jan. 3, it certainly seems all of a sudden as though Williams — despite being out of the NFL the previous two seasons — has become the most obvious building block in the foundation that head coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider have been assembling in their first year on the job, mostly on the fly.
"Yeah, it's so weird the way it all came together for him," said one daily team observer. "He just came in for a tryout, not expecting anything. Even he was surprised."
But what became very unsurprising was the constant mismatch Williams provided with his rare size and quickness on the perimeter — a presence so strong that T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Deion Branch, who were both big-ticket acquisitions, became expendable in Carroll's eyes.
In a sense, it seems fitting that a player many had relegated to big-time bust status has become the undisputed centerpiece of a team that had to have set a record for transactions, moving players in and out with abandon and making it pretty hard for onlookers to determine the team's actual identity.
Which leads to a question very much worth asking: Who else, besides Williams, are considered the biggest building blocks on the Seahawks?
"I would start with the 2010 draft class, with guys like (first-round OLT Russell) Okung, (first-round FS Earl) Thomas, (fourth-round CB Walter) Thurmond and (fifth-round SS Kam) Chancellor definitely being counted on a lot," the observer told PFW. "After that, I would go with (star RS) Leon Washington, who has become a major presence both on and off the field; (starting OLB) David Hawthorne, who signed an extension early in the season; and (MLB) Lofa (Tatupu).
"Even though Tatupu is not the player he was in his first three seasons, Carroll just loves the guy because he's like a coach on the field and gets everything set properly.
"I also think they're sold on the RB tandem of (Marshawn) Lynch and (Justin) Forsett and the way they complement one another."