TAMPA — Doug Williams will be a free agent.
Tampa Bay's pro personnel executive has spent the past five seasons working to improve the talent on the Bucs.
But these are nervous times at One Buc Place after one of the worst collapses in NFL history. Everyone is being evaluated, and Williams hasn't heard anything about his contract, which is set to expire in February.
"I'm in this. I've been in it and enjoyed it the last five years," Williams said. "If you don't have a chance to be a GM, there's no sense in saying, 'I'm through. I don't have anywhere to go.' The key here is I like what I do, I like the people I work with, and I like football. It's strictly up to whether or not (general manager) Bruce (Allen) and (owners) the Glazers think it's the right thing to do. If you're in the position I'm in, you're at the mercy of the administration. If they want to make changes, they have the right to do that."
Williams isn't alone. Director of pro personnel Mark Dominik will need a contract extension sometime in May.
There's no reason, at this time, to think that both won't be back for another season. In Williams' case, his value to the club goes well beyond the players he scouts or reports he files.
Williams is an icon, the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl and that game's MVP. He also is the reason the Bucs dug out of the franchise's 0-26 start to reach the NFC title game in just their fourth season.
He is a sounding board for many players, an example to others and a guy coach Jon Gruden loves having around his team.
"Sometimes it's the respect of the player that they give certain individuals that help the situation," Williams said. "I do believe from a respectability standpoint, I do have the respect of the players on the football team. They don't see me at practice; they see me on game day. But I still think they like the fact that I'm around. There's only one guy who's said that, and that's Derrick Brooks. Michael Clayton, Alex Smith, we've talked. Antonio Bryant and I talk all the time because he's a guy who needs somebody — between (receivers coach) Richard Mann and myself, we're the two people he's going to talk to when things don't go right."
Williams, 53, hopes to be a GM one day. He has no desire to return to coaching in college. "Coach where?" he said, noting the poor hiring record of minorities by Division I programs.
"I think I've learned being around all the guys I've been around. A lot of people say you haven't done this or that. Salary cap is something people talk about, but when you look around the league, everybody has a salary cap guy. So do you want a personnel guy? Or a general manager that's going to manage the salary cap? You have to decide who you want."
Mr. Franchise: Contrary to some reports, the Bucs have not decided whether to use their franchise tag on Bryant, their leading receiver with 83 catches for 1,248 yards and seven touchdowns. There's a good chance they can reach an agreement on an extension before the free agency signing period. If they chose to tag him, the Bucs would have to guarantee Bryant about $9-million on a one-year contract.