1. Archive


After his turbulent offseason, Tampa Bay trades Mike Williams.

Unable to stay out of trouble off the field, Mike Williams made one more headline Friday: Traded to the Bills.

Tampa Bay contacted all 31 other teams trying to deal their troubled receiver, but only two showed interest. Ultimately, the Bucs felt fortunate to get a sixth-round pick in next month's NFL draft from Buffalo, where he will reunite with Doug Marrone, his former coach at Syracuse.

Williams' spate of off-field issues became too much for new Bucs coach Lovie Smith, who said a couple of times recently that he was concerned about a pattern of poor behavior from Williams.

"We thank Mike for his contributions to the Buccaneers over the last four seasons," general manager Jason Licht said in a team statement. "At this time, we felt it was best for both sides, and we wish Mike well going forward."

Had the Bucs not struck a deal, they likely would've released Williams before Monday, the first day of their offseason workouts and first chance for Smith to address his entire team. Because Williams' six-year, $40.25 million contract included no signing bonus, the Bucs saved $1.8 million on their salary cap.

Despite his troubles, Williams apparently never saw a trade coming. Two weeks ago, he paid $995,000 cash for the house he had been renting in Avila in northwest Hillsborough County, according to property records.

It's the home where Williams was stabbed in his left thigh last month. His brother Eric Baylor was charged with aggravated battery and domestic violence in the incident.

Last week, Williams, 26, was approved to enter a pretrial intervention program to resolve misdemeanor charges of trespass and criminal mischief. He was accused of knocking a girlfriend's door off its hinges in December.

Williams had other trouble as well. Last year there were at least five 911 calls to a 5,400-square-foot home where he lived at the Sanctuary on Livingston development in Lutz, plus a lawsuit and threats of eviction. Williams agreed in September to pay more than $50,000 in damages and deposits.

A suit, filed last week in Tampa by United Property & Casualty Insurance Co., seeks $54,453 for fire damage plus court costs.

A fourth-round pick in 2010, Williams played six games last season before having surgery on a torn hamstring. He had 22 receptions for 216 yards and two touchdowns. In four seasons, Williams had 215 catches for 2,947 yards with 25 touchdowns.

A Buffalo native, Williams was the No. 2 receiver behind Vincent Jackson, creating a need the team will have to address in free agency and the draft. Tampa Bay owns the No. 7 overall draft pick and could be in range to select either Clemson's Sammy Watkins or Texas A&M's Mike Evans.

The Bucs now no longer have a player remaining from their 2006, '07, '08 or '09 drafts. Only defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is left from the 2010 draft class.

It's interesting that Marrone wanted Williams, who never played for him. Williams' departure from Syracuse came after he was suspended for the 2008 season for cheating on a test. He then had a curfew violation and faced another suspension. Marrone tried to offer Williams a chance to come back, but they never connected and the receiver was dismissed from the team.

Marrone's first game as Syracuse coach was in 2009.

"With regard to our time at Syracuse, I feel that is in the past for both of us," Marrone said Friday. "Mike has an opportunity to get a fresh start to his career here in his hometown and regain his form as a productive player in the National Football League."

The Bucs signed former Florida receiver Louis Murphy as a free agent two weeks ago. On Friday, they were close to signing former Titans and Chargers receiver Lavelle Hawkins, who played for offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford at California. Hawkins was released by the Patriots in July and played eight games with the Chargers last season.

* * *

Titans release All-Pro running back Johnson

NASHVILLE - The CJ2K era is over in Tennessee.

The Titans released Chris Johnson, thus avoiding paying the running back $8 million due this season, along with the final three seasons left on a $53.5 million deal he signed in September 2011.

General manager Ruston Webster thanked Johnson for his contributions, including numerous franchise records.

The Titans have been busy working to replace Johnson, who turns 29 in September. They agreed with former Largo High standout Dexter McCluster on a three-year deal at the start of free agency after signing Shonn Greene in March 2013. The Titans also have re-signed Jackie Battle and reached a one-year deal for former FSU returner and running back Leon Washington.

"I'd like to thank all of my teammates, the fans, the staff and the coaches who have supported me throughout my journey with the Titans," Johnson said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to the next chapter and can't wait to contribute to my new team."

He is the sixth player to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons and had a 2,006-yard season in 2009.

CARROLL'S NEW DEAL: The Seahawks locked up coach Pete Carroll with a three-year contract extension after he led the franchise to its first Super Bowl title. The extension runs through the 2016 season. The original five-year deal was set to expire after next season for Carroll, 62, the league's second-oldest coach.

SAINTS GET CHAMP: Defensive back Champ Bailey agreed to a two-year contract with New Orleans. The 35-year-old played the past 10 seasons with Denver.

EAGLES: Linebacker Jake Knott was suspended for the first four games of 2014 for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

GIANTS: Tight end Kellen Davis, a former Seahawk, was signed.

PATRIOTS: Safety Adrian Wilson, a 13-year veteran, was released.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

* * *


The Bucs and former Florida star Major Wright reached an agreement on a one-year deal on Friday, reuniting the former Bears safety with new Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith.

Wright, a 2012 third-round pick of the Bears under Smith, also rejoins Mikal Smith, Tampa Bay's safeties coach, and cornerbacks coach Gill Byrd, who had the same position in Chicago.

The 25-year-old had 100 tackles last season with two interceptions. He has nine interceptions in the past three seasons, with 42 starts in that span. He was born in Lauderdale Lakes and was part of Florida's national championship squad in 2008.