TAMPA — As Mike Williams fielded questions after a mandatory minicamp practice Wednesday, a Bucs teammate walked by and shouted one request.
"Pay the man," he said.
In fact, it appears that Williams is closer to getting paid.
Negotiations between the Bucs and Williams, which accelerated after free agency and the NFL draft, may produce an agreement within weeks if not days.
"All I can say about that 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.
GM Mark Dominik would like to get a deal completed before training camp.
For the Bucs, the contract extension would be 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 LB Lavonte David and S Mark Barron out-perform their rookie contracts.
Williams, 26, dropped to the fourth round amid reports that he 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 average) and 11 touchdowns. But following the NFL lockout in 2010, he slumped to three touchdowns and 11.9 yards per catch.
Williams is scheduled to earn $1.4 million in base salary this season, part of his rookie deal over four years for $2.3825 million. 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 Vincent Jackson were among the top receiving tandems in the NFL in 2012.
"I see the changes in Mike over the last year," 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. … But all the little things about being a pro, I think Vincent has brought that into the room and certainly for Mike and for all those guys."
PRIME-TIME TV DEAL: MOR-TV (Ch. 32) has secured the local broadcast rights to the Bucs' two prime-time games this season — Thursday, Oct. 24 vs. Carolina and Monday, Nov. 11 vs. Miami. By league rule, games that are being carried by cable networks must also be shown in local markets on an over-the-air station.
INJURY UPDATE: DE Da'Quan Bowers and Barron left practice early Wednesday because of heat exhaustion. … Guards Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks did not practice as they recover from injuries. "They're coming along," Schiano said. "We're not going to rush them this time of year, especially guys who missed so much time last year. We want to make sure that these guys are ready to go but they're doing well."
Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report.