The San Francisco 49ers have parted ways with rookie safety Terrell Williams, at least for the time being. A week ago, the team placed him on injured reserve, and signed Dexter McCoil to take his place on the depth chart. On Wednesday, the NFL’s official transaction sheet revealed the team terminated him via the waivers system. Given his injury, this means the two sides agreed to an injury settlement.
NFL salaries are usually not fully guaranteed, particularly for UDFAs. However, when a player is injured, a team cannot just cut him and pay him nothing. When a player is hurt in the course of practice or games, his team will end up paying him some or all of his salary in a given year. The two sides decided on how much time he would miss, and he will receive payment for that many weeks of his NFL salary.
If Williams had remained on injured reserve all season, he would not have been able to sign with another team, regardless of the severity of the injury. With the settlement, he will now become a free agent, allowed to sign anywhere else. If the 49ers want to bring him back at some point, they have to wait the length of the settlement plus an additional three weeks. So, if they paid him for three weeks of salary, they would have to wait six weeks into the season before they could re-sign him.
Williams was the 49ers top-graded defensive player in Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys, according to Pro Football Focus. The playing time came during the fourth quarter, but it was still a solid debut for a rookie that far down the depth chart. The 49ers have some options at safety, but we’ll see how things look in a couple months after the length of the settlement.