"Damien's a guy we worked out earlier in training camp who was in shape. He's had a productive career, he's a good football player, he's smart, he's tough. So, we were interested in him honestly before that," Raiders coach Josh McDaniels told reporters Friday, confirming the addition ahead of Sunday's preseason game against the 49ers. "But when you start to get a little low at a number here and you've got to play a game -- and really we're gonna play two in six days, along with another two competitive practices -- just trying to make sure that at each spot we can, we're kind of healthy, as healthy as we can be going into this stretch of days, which is gonna be an important one."
Williams' career has never quite popped in a traditional box score, with 498 yards standing as his career-high mark in a single season (2019 in Kansas City). But Williams made his name when it mattered most in that campaign, gaining 290 total yards and scoring six total touchdowns in the 2019 postseason, including a 17-carry, 104-yard performance in Super Bowl LIV that saw him score the final two touchdowns in the Chiefs' thrilling win over the 49ers.
Since then, Williams has made two stops with NFC teams, spending 2021 with Chicago and 2022 with Atlanta. He saw just 42 carries combined in those two seasons, but has managed to find a job at 31 years old with the Raiders, who are looking for experienced help at running back while Jacobs remains away due to a contract dispute.
Las Vegas placed the franchise tag on Jacobs after the Alabama product posted a career year in 2022, leading the NFL in rushing (1,653 yards) and tying a career-high mark with 12 rushing scores. Jacobs almost singlehandedly kept the Raiders' offense afloat last season, but with the value of running backs continuing to drop on the open market, Las Vegas declined to sign Jacobs to a long-term deal, instead securing team control of him for 2023 with the tag.
Jacobs has not signed the tag and remained away from the team throughout the offseason, and Williams' signing suggests the Raiders aren't close to bridging the existing gap with Jacobs. Zamir White, Ameer Abdullah and Brandon Bolden are among those on the roster at the moment, and the addition of Williams gives the Raiders another option to consider in Jacobs' absence.
Whether that produces a resolution regarding Jacobs remains to be seen.