DENVER — It takes only a glance at the AFC West specifically and the conference, in general, to know you can't cut corners.
A premium remains on defending the pass. The Broncos added to their secondary Tuesday, agreeing in principle on a two-year, $7-million deal with veteran corner K'Waun Williams.
Williams, who turns 31 in July, brings experience and a plethora of career snaps at slot corner, an area of a need for the Broncos. The Broncos boast Patrick Surtain II, one of the league's top rookie defenders last season, and Ronald Darby, but featured a void inside. Bryce Callahan played well in the slot the past two seasons when available. The problem was that he missed more games (28) than he appeared in (21) for Denver since signing because of foot and knee injuries.
Williams has a slight build — 5-foot-9. 185 pounds — with nifty quickness. He broke into the league with Cleveland to mixed reviews but found traction with the 49ers. Over the past five seasons, he produced four interceptions and five sacks with San Francisco while starting 36 of 65 games.
Pro Football Focus graded him as the league's 53rd best corner last season.
The Broncos could keep the door ajar for Callahan, who has expressed interest in returning. However, it would have to be a team-friendly deal as Denver's cap space has dwindled and money has been squirreled away to sign a right tackle.
Brandon Shell, a former teammate of quarterback Russell Wilson, planned to visit with the Broncos on Tuesday.
Under new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, the Broncos will use the same scheme but boast more nuances. Evero places more of a premium on pressure, on making the quarterback uncomfortable. That is why the Broncos made edge rusher a priority in the offseason, landing Randy Gregory on a five-year, $70-million deal with $28 million guaranteed.
Pressure works in conjunction with coverage. Surtain excelled a year ago, but Darby failed to produce an interception for the second straight season, something Denver needs to change.
While Broncos Country might not recognize Williams by name, football fans will remember one of his best plays. Last November he intercepted a Matthew Stafford pass with his arm and bottom. The "butt-pick" was erased by a penalty but provided an incredible highlight.