New deal for Bucs' WR Williams? 'It's very close'
As Mike Williams fielded questions from reporters following a mandatory minicamp practice Wednesday, a Bucs’ teammate walked by and shouted one request.
“Pay the man,’’ he said.
And, in fact, it appears that Williams is closer to getting paid.
Negotiations on a new contract between the Bucs and Williams, which accelerated following free agency and the NFL draft, may produce an agreement within weeks if not days.
“All I can say about it is that it’s very close,’’ Williams said Wednesday.
Williams, selected in the fourth round in 2010, has averaged 64 catches in his first three seasons and had a career-best 996 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012. He is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2013 season.
Bucs general manager Mark Dominik would like to get a deal completed prior to training camp.
But for the Bucs, the contract extension would somewhat precedent-setting. While it would make good business sense to lock up Williams before he hits free agency, Dominik can expect a line outside his door when players such as linebacker Lavonte David and safety Mark Barron out-perform their rookie contracts.
Williams, 26, dropped to the fourth round of the 2010 draft amid reports that quit his Syracuse football team with a few games remaining. While it turned out to be a misunderstanding between Williams and then Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, the damage had been done.
As a rookie, Williams had 964 yards receiving (14.8 avg.) and 11 touchdowns. But following the NFL lockout in 2010, he slumped to only three touchdowns and a pedestrian 11.9 yards per catch.
Williams is scheduled to earn $1.4-million in base salary this season, part of his rookie deal of four-years, $2.3825-million. Over the past few seasons, Dominik has structured contracts with little to no signing bonus and high base salaries that are guaranteed for the first two years of the deal.
Williams and fellow receiver Vincent Jackson were among the top receiving tandems in the NFL in 2012.
“I see the changes in Mike over the last year,’’ Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. “Mike is becoming such a more seasoned pro. Mike always had the passion for the game, way back from when I knew him when he was at Syracuse. I mean, this kid loves to play football. But all the little things about being a pro, I think Vincent (Jackson) has brought that into the room and certainly for Mike and for all those guys.’’