It's time for Bucs to cut Mike Williams loose

Of Bucs wide receiver Mike Williams, Tom Jones writes: "Trade him. Cut him. Whatever. Just get him out of here. He's trouble.''
Of Bucs wide receiver Mike Williams, Tom Jones writes: "Trade him. Cut him. Whatever. Just get him out of here. He's trouble.''
Published March 25, 2014

Bucs receiver Mike Williams is going to be okay. That's the good news.

Williams claimed he and his brother were horsing around Sunday when he was stabbed in the thigh while hanging out at his rented house in Avila, a place where you don't hear many reports of knife fights.

Hey, who hasn't whipped out the deadly weapons just to, you know, pass the time on a lazy Florida afternoon?

How do you suppose that conversation would go?

"Hey Mike, wanna wrestle?''

"Hold on, bro, let's grab some knives first.''

The whole thing sounds fishy. Police showed up at Williams' house. Williams' brother was long gone. The cops hung around for several hours and now it would appear that the incident was far from playful.

Thankfully, Williams is fine. From the sounds of it, he's healthy enough to do anything. Like hit the road.

And that's exactly what should happen.

Enough with this guy. Get him out of here. Today.

Trade him. Cut him. Whatever. Just get him out of here.

He's trouble.

Either he causes it or it finds him. He can't seem to avoid it. It's always him. He's always that guy.

There were warning signs coming out of college. That's why he slipped to the fourth round in the 2010 draft.

Problems have continued in the NFL.

He has a hearing Thursday for trespassing and criminal mischief charges after an incident in December when he busted up a woman's door.

While renting a 5,400-square-foot home in Lutz, Williams' lifestyle resulted in at least five calls to 911 in a four-month stretch last year. He racked up nearly $50,000 in damages to the house.

Neighbors told stories about party-goers showing up in stretch limos at 4 in the morning and cars tearing up yards and demolishing sprinkler heads, not to mention mattresses found on the front lawn, as if the whole thing was a deleted scene from Project X.

The sad thing is Williams isn't some goofy high school kid. He's a grown man. He's 26. When, exactly, is he going to grow up?

Then there are at least 16 traffic citations he has received since 2010. Sixteen!

All-night parties. Kicking in doors. Driving around town like a maniac. And now a mysterious stabbing.

Who does this stuff?

I don't think Williams is an evil man. But you are what your actions say you are and you can't help but come to this conclusion, based on his actions:

Williams is a menace to the community and an embarrassment to the Bucs organization.

Those who defend Williams might suggest that what happened Sunday wasn't his fault, that Williams was a victim, that he can't be held responsible for what others do.

And if Sunday was an isolated incident, you might be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. But it wasn't an isolated incident.

If I told you that a Bucs player was involved in a strange incident involving a stabbing, would you have needed more than one or two guesses to come up with the name of Mike Williams?

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You don't see Lavonte David doing this stuff. You don't hear about Steven Stamkos being the worst neighbor in Tampa Bay. Cops aren't showing up at David Price's house on a regular basis.

New Bucs general manager Jason Licht and new coach Lovie Smith have been on the job for about three months and this is the second time they've had to answer questions about Williams' off-field behavior. Instead of talking to the national media about all the bold offseason moves they made to improve their team, Licht and Smith are at the owners meetings in Orlando leaving messages for Williams — Smith finally talked to him — and awkwardly answering questions about all the mess he has caused.

Why put up with it?

Sure, cutting ties with Williams would create a big opening at wide receiver. Williams isn't an All-Pro, but he did rack up nearly 1,000 yards in 2012. The Bucs don't have anyone at the moment to replace him.

So what?

This is about doing what's right. This is about the Bucs telling their fans, their community and, most of all, their organization that they aren't going to put up with any garbage.

The Bucs are in no hurry. There are no deadlines. They can take their time, gather all the facts, then come to a decision.

But I don't really see that decision being anything other than cutting ties with Williams.

The Bucs can find a free-agent receiver. They can draft a wide receiver or two, maybe even Clemson's Sammy Watkins, considered the best receiver in this year's draft. It doesn't matter. I'd rather line up with 10 guys than line up with Williams any longer. At this rate, you never know when Williams will do something stupid again to knock himself out of the lineup.

That's the big part of this: You simply can't trust him anymore.

Honestly, I hope he grows up, matures, becomes more responsible. I hope he straightens out his life. I hope he salvages his career and becomes a productive receiver.

But I'm not hopeful that he will.

For Williams, a change of scenery might be the best thing.

For the Bucs, changing Williams' scenery is the best thing.