Bucs trade WR Mike Williams to Bills for 6th round pick
Unable to stay out of the trouble off the field, Mike Williams made one more headline Friday: Traded to the Buffalo Bills for the sixth round pick in next month's NFL draft.
Tampa Bay contacted all 31 other teams in an effort to deal their troubled receiver, but only two showed any interest. Ultimately, they felt fortunate to get a sixth round pick from Buffalo where he will be reunited with Doug Marrone, his former head coach at Syracuse.
Williams' spate of off-field issues became too much for new coach Lovie Smith, who said at the NFL scouting combine in February he was concerned about what had become a pattern of poor behavior.
"We thank Mike for his contributions to the Buccaneers over the last four seasons,'' general manager Jason Licht said in a statement released by the team Friday. "At this time, we felt it was best for both sides and we wish Mike well going forward.''
Had the Bucs not struck a trade for Williams, it's likely they would've released him before Monday, the first day of their off-season workout program. Because Williams' six-year, $40.25-million contract included no signing bonus, the Bucs actually saved $1.8-million on their salary cap by releasing him. Williams $5.2-million salary in 2015 is guaranteed if he is on the roster.
Despite his troubles, Williams apparently never saw the Bucs trading him. Two weeks ago, he paid $995,000 cash for the house he had been renting in Avila, according to property records.
It's the same home where Williams was stabbed in his left thigh last month. His brother, Eric Baylor, was charged with aggravated battery and domestic violence in the incident.
Last week, Williams was approved to enter a pretrial intervention program to resolve misdemeanor charges of trespass and criminal mischief. He was accused of knocking a girlfriend's door off its hinges in December.
While Williams was a victim in stabbing incident, it wasn't the first time he had trouble at his home. While living in a 5,400-square-foot home in the Sanctuary on Livingston development in Lutz, Williams' lifestyle resulted in at least five calls to 911 from June to September last year, a lawsuit and threats of eviction. Williams agreed in September to pay more than $43,000 in damages (plus attorney fees), extend his lease by one month (at $6,000) and surrender a $3,600 security deposit.
Before Williams moved to Avila, the Sheriff's Office was familiar with calls to his residence in Lutz. There were five 911 calls to the property since June, ranging from a kitchen fire to roommate Tyshawn Edwards telling police in the middle of the night he partied too much at a Bucs game and someone may have spiked his drink.
A fourth-round pick by the Bucs in 2010, Williams had at least 63 receptions in each of his first three seasons. But last year he played in only six games before undergoing surgery to repair a hamstring tear. He had only 22 receptions for 216 yards and two touchdowns. In four seasons, Williams had 215 receptioins for 2,947 yards (13.7) average with 25 touchdowns.
A Buffalo native, Williams was the Bucs No. 2 receiver behind Vincent Jackson, creating an immediate need at that position that the team will have to address in free agency and the draft. Tampa Bay owns the No. 7 overall pick and could be in range to select either Clemson's Sammy Watkins of Texas A&M's Mike Evans.
It's ironic that Marrone was the one who wanted Williams, who never actually played for him. Williams depature came after he was suspended for the 2008 season for cheating on a test. He then had a curfew violation and was facing another suspension. Marrone tried to offer Williams a chance to come back but they never connected and he was dismissed from the team.
Marrone's first year of actually coaching the Syracuse football team in a game was 2009.
"With regard to our time at Syracuse, I feel that is in the past for both of us,” Marrone said Friday. "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. . .
“Mike Williams is a competitive, tough wide receiver who has the size and athleticism to add competition to our receiver position group. We feel Mike is a player who has the ability to help our team improve.”
The trade of Williams means the Bucs no longer have a player remaining on their roster from their 2006, '07, '08 or '09 drafts. Only defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is left from the 2010 draft class.
The Bucs signed former Bradenton Southeast High School and University of Florida receiver Louis Murphy as a free agent two weeks ago. Murphy has played in 71 NFL games with 24 starts, catching 121 passes for 1,744 yards and eight touchdowns.
On Friday, the Bucs worked out former Tennesee Titans and Chargers receiver Lavelle Hawkins, who played for offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford at California. Hawkins' best season was 2011 when he caught 47 passes for 470 yards and one touchdown.