Bucs bid Cadillac Williams farewell
The Bucs know running back Cadillac Williams is gone, good-bye. But coach Raheem Morris said the former first-round pick will always be a sentimental favorite.
Williams, 29, agreed to terms with the St. Louis Rams, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, ending a six-year career with the Bucs that was marred by two devastating knee injuries.
"One of those guys who was definitely a team leader,'' Morris said. "He'll be missed around here. Of course, obviously, he'll always be remembered for that red 24 and what he brought to our team, what he brought to us. You want to talk about character -- blown out knees, torn (patellar tendons), coming back two years in a row. We all remember that sentimental injury in Carolina and what it meant when he came back and how bad we all felt for him when it looked like he was getting going again. Those times you never forget.
"Me and Cadillac, personally, again man, it's the business. Those things happen. But again, you move on and you embrace this new battle.''
Williams, the fifth overall pick by the Bucs in 2005, burst onto the scene by rushing for 434 yards over his first three NFL games, setting a league record with three consecutive 100-yard rushing performances to start his career. He was named the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year after rushing for 1,178 yards.
Unfortunately, Williams was limited to playing in only 10 games over 2007-08 after suffering a torn patellar tendon in each knee.
Williams battled back and reclaimed his starting tailback spot. But last season, after averaging only 2.5 yards per carry through nine starts, he was replaced by rookie LeGarrette Blount, who led all first-year players with 1,007 rushing yards. Williams was relegated to a third down back, a role that may revitalize his career.
With Williams gone, the Bucs will let veteran Earnest Graham fight it out with second-year pro Kregg Lumpkin and rookie Allen Bradford for the role as third down back.
"I would say those guys are fighting for a spot with Earnest (Graham) really being in that picture, too, in that role we're talking about,'' Morris said. "Lumpkin, Allen Bradford step into that battle. We've got some other young guys, Mossis Madu and some of these guys you haven't named yet. But you will. I'm going to let those guys fight, let those guys play. Everybody knows the ultimate prize and what the role holds and being that second back, getting a lot of carries and potentially going out there on third down. Even (LeGarrette) Blount is trying to step up and play a little third down.''
In St. Louis, Williams is expected to be the Rams' No. 2 running back behind Pro Bowl tailback Steven Jackson. Terms were not released, but it's believed he signed a one-year deal for $685,000, the veteran minimum for a player with six NFL seasons.
"Certainly, we've always appreciated what Cadillac Williams has given the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,'' offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "I hate to lose the player, I hate to lose everything be brought to the offense and really what he brought to the organization. But every player's time must end sometime and those players will have to take his place...we'll just move forward.''