What's Mike Williams worth in contract talks with Bucs?
Bucs receiver Mike Williams has a very capable agent who does not need my help.
Still, it’s a worthwhile exercise to kick around some ideas about what Williams might garner in these contract talks that now are underway with the Bucs.
Williams has a few things going for him: He’s young, still just 25-years old. He's durable, never missing any of the 48 games played since he's been on the roster. And he’s been consistent. Despite his dip to just three touchdowns and 771 yards in 2011, widely considered a down year for him, he has averaged 910 yards and 64 catches in his three seasons.
That’s very good production in a league where far less-accomplished players are doing quite well for themselves.
Working in the Bucs’ favor is the fact that they aren’t bidding against anyone. If and when this deal gets done this offseason, Williams won’t enter free agency and the Bucs will be able to sign him for less than they would on the open market.
So, with all that in mind, I went looking for a couple of reference points and a couple caught my eye.
First among them was Bills receiver Steve Johnson’s five-year, $36 million deal. Johnson has been slightly more productive than Williams, but not by much. And, like Williams, Johnson’s deal was negotiated before he entered free agency (though he was much closer to hitting the market than Williams).
Seahawks receiver Sidney Rice signed a five-year $41 million contract in 2011 that reportedly had more than $18 million in guarantees. And his production pales in comparison to Williams. Think Williams’ agent hasn’t included that one in his sales pitch?
The contracts given to some upper-tier receivers probably are out of reach for Williams. That would include that of Williams’ teammate, Vincent Jackson, who signed a five-year $55 million contract last year – including $13 million in 2012. Jackson is obviously in a different league than Williams and has had more years of sustained success.
But make no mistake, Williams is going to get paid, too. And he’s earned it. At this point, it probably boils down to a matter of how much.