Does cornerback Cary Williams want to be back with the Baltimore Ravens? Yes. Does he feel he will be? He doesn't sound optimistic.
Williams is one of six key players for the cap-strapped Ravens scheduled to become unrestricted free agents March 12.
Along with Williams, quarterback Joe Flacco, inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, safety Ed Reed, outside linebacker Paul Kruger and left tackle Bryant McKinnie are also impending free agents.
Baltimore is in the process of negotiating a long-term deal with Flacco, and it's thought that finding a way to re-sign Ellerbe ranks as the team's second priority this offseason. Williams, Kruger and McKinnie, meanwhile, all appear likely to depart as free agents.
As far as Williams, he told the Carroll County Times: "The team reached out to me and told me what the top priorities were, and those obviously were the quarterback position [Flacco] and the middle linebacker position [Ellerbe]. Everything outside of that would have to be a bonus I guess, so it is what it is. ...
"We have a lot of depth at corner and a lot of depth in the defensive backfield, so I just think I'm not necessarily a priority right now."
Williams signed with the Ravens in 2009 after spending the first season and a half of his career with the Tennessee Titans. He was a starter for Baltimore each of the last two seasons. He had 78 tackles and 18 pass deflections in 2011 and 75 tackles, 17 pass deflections and four interceptions this past season, helping Baltimore fill the void created by the season-ending knee injury top cornerback Lardarius Webb suffered in mid-October.
Williams added 27 tackles, six pass deflections and two interceptions during the playoffs amid the Ravens' run to a Super Bowl title.
Williams, 28, turned down a three-year, $15 million extension with Baltimore prior to the season and feels he's now positioned himself for an even bigger deal, whether it comes from the Ravens or from another team.
"I know I'm worth more than what the deal was worth before," Williams said. "I'm not going to throw out a number and say what the range I'm looking for is, but I feel like a team, whoever that is, whether it's the Baltimore Ravens, will pay me for what I'm worth. And I think that three-year, $15 million [offer] is something that I outplayed and that I'm worth more than that. ...
"The sky's the limit for me now. I just feel like I'm an ascending player. I feel like I've gotten better each and every year. ... I wasn't able to play the way I wanted to play at the beginning of this season because of the hip, but towards the latter part of the season I think that everybody saw my potential and saw what I can do."
Williams did emphasize that he would like to remain in Baltimore, but he did acknowledge the likelihood that won't happen based on the Ravens' limited resources under the salary cap and the team's other "more dire needs."
"Staying in Baltimore is the most ideal situation," Williams said. "My heart's there. It's always been there. But this is just the business aspect of this game. ...
"They said if it wasn't for the situation they're in now [from a salary-cap standpoint] that I would be a priority and that I am a priority, but it's just a situation where they have some big needs right now that they have to fill in the quarterback position and the linebacker position, and those are more dire needs, and they don't necessarily know if they'll have the money or have the time to get me a deal."