Updates from Monday, April 7
Mike Rodak of ESPN has the latest on Mike Williams' move to Buffalo:
Bills announce that Mike Williams has passed his physical and will be introduced to reporters at 3:30 p.m. today.— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) April 7, 2014
Doug Marrone and Mike Williams are reunited.
On Friday, the Buffalo Bills traded for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' wide receiver. The Bucs confirmed the reports on Friday afternoon, per team writer Scott Smith:
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' rapidly-evolving depth chart will have another new starter in 2014. On Friday, the Buccaneers traded wide receiver Mike Williams to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, pending Williams passing a physical.
“We thank Mike for his contributions to the Buccaneers over the last four seasons. At this time we felt this was best for both sides and we wish Mike well going forward,” said Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht.
James Walker of ESPN first reported the news:
Williams played for Marrone at Syracuse, but was suspended for academic reasons and ultimately quit the team in 2009. He has also most recently been in the news after being stabbed in the thigh. He was hospitalized and released shortly thereafter.
Marrone talked to the Bills' official site about his past with Williams:
Williams played his college ball at Syracuse, but left the team prior to the 2009 season knowing he’d be facing a suspension after breaking a curfew with three other teammates. There were other off the field transgressions as well, and so Williams never played for Marrone, whose first season as head coach of the Orange was in 2009. As far as Marrone is concerned, the past is in the past. He’s giving Williams a clean slate with the Bills.
“With regard to our time at Syracuse, I feel that is in the past for both of us,” said Marrone. ”Mike has an opportunity to get a fresh start to his career here in his hometown and regain his form as a productive player in the National Football League. We look forward to getting Mike into the facility and start our work preparing for the 2014 season once the players are free to report on April 22.”
As for what Marrone feels Williams can add to the Bills passing attack, Buffalo’s sideline boss likes his stature and athletic ability.
“Mike Williams is a competitive, tough wide receiver who has the size and athleticism to add competition to our receiver position group,” said Marrone. “We feel Mike is a player who has the ability to help our team improve.”
I've always had a lot of respect for Mike. I thought Mike was a heck of a football player. We had a lot of conversations. There were a lot of good things that were going on. I got a lot of calls before the draft and I told those guys that Mike would do well. We've been disconnected obviously from when he left to his time in Tampa. But I liked Mike. I really did. I wish him well. Yesterday, I talked to [Tampa Bay general manager] Jason [Licht] just to see if he was OK. Obviously, I care about Mike.
Perhaps the second time will be the charm for Marrone and Williams.
And perhaps what was a bit of a weak point for this Buffalo offense a year ago, the wide receiver position, is now becoming a strength, as Ian Kenyon of Bleacher Report tweets:
The Bills suddenly have a solid group of receivers— Ian Kenyon (@IanKenyonNFL) April 4, 2014
Stevie Johnson, Mike Williams, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, TJ Graham, CJ Spiller, Fred Jackson. A lot of weapons for EJ Manuel— Ian Kenyon (@IanKenyonNFL) April 4, 2014
If nothing else, it would appear to be a savvy piece of business by the Bills, as Pro Football Talk notes:
Bucs paid WR Mike Williams $8.2 million last year. Bills will pay him $1.8 million this year.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) April 4, 2014
There's no cap charge to Bucs resulting from the reported trade of Mike Williams from Tampa to Buffalo; his contract had no signing bonus.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) April 4, 2014
Adds Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports:
In addition I can report the Bills are taking Williams contract as is; there was no restructuring or alterations to it...— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) April 4, 2014
Mike Williams will make $1.8M in 2014, with $1.2M fully guaranteed and $600K in workout bonus. He has a $5.2M base in '15 guar as well— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) April 4, 2014
Williams contract basically lines up to pay him $8.6M over next 2 years, then his guarantees expire. Would make $7.2. In '16 if retained— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) April 4, 2014
If Bills decide they only want Williams for 1 year, they can release him prior to start of 2015 league year, before $1M roster bonus is due— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) April 4, 2014
And the Bills were ultimately able to get him on the cheap, at least compared to what the Bucs wanted for him, as Adam Caplan of ESPN states:
The Bucs were hoping for as high as a 4th round pick for Williams, but got what they could for him based on his off-the-field history.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) April 4, 2014
Williams played in just six games last season, catching 22 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns. But twice in his career he's reached at least 900 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, so the potential for big things is certainly there.
And perhaps with a familiar coach in place, he'll thrive. The Bills are certainly looking more dangerous on offense.
But where does this leave the Bucs? According to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, they'll likely select a wide receiver early in the draft:
Trading Williams to Buffalo guarantees the Buccaneers go WR early. Mike Evans is the pick if there, in my opinion.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 4, 2014
Of course, there's always the chance that Sammy Watkins—the electrifying wide receiver from Clemson—could drop to No. 7, though it seems likely he'll be a top-five pick. Either way, Bucs fans should expect the team will add an explosive young talent to pair with Vincent Jackson come the draft.