Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams has signed a six-year extension worth $40.25 million that will keep him in Tampa Bay through the 2018 season. The deal replaces the final year on Williams' original four-year contract.
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora writes that the Bucs included $15 million in guaranteed money in their five-year, $40.4 million deal with receiver Mike Williams, according to sources, and were very hopeful of getting a contact done for him prior to the start of training camp.
"We are pleased to have Mike signed to a long-term contract that ensures he will continue to be part of the exciting young core of players we are building around," Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik said Wednesday in a statement.
La Canfora adds that it was a strong contract by agent Hadley Engelhard and another tangible sign that the Glazer family is willing to spend to get the Bucs winning again and draw fans back to the stadium, with the team splurging recently for players like Vincent Jackson and corner Darrelle Revis as well as investing millions in prolonging the deals of their existing young core.
Williams has emerged as a top player for them, putting behind his problems from college at Syracuse and teaming with Jackson to give the team dynamic playmakers catching the ball. Interestingly, this is the first time in NFL history that a receiver without a 1,000-yard season has secured an extension in excess of $40-million, a sign of how strongly Tampa feels about his ability to help the team reverse its fortunes.
Williams, a 2010 fourth-round pick, enters his fourth season with 23 career touchdowns, the most ever by a Bucs player in his first three years. In 2012, Williams started 16 games, and had 63 receptions for 996 yards and nine touchdowns.
"Mike has earned this contract through his hard work and production the past three seasons and we are looking forward to seeing him continue that career development as a Buccaneer," Dominik said.
Now Tampa Bay has two high-priced, big-play wide receivers in Williams and Jackson. Add second-year running back Doug Martin to the mix and the Bucs' offense should be able to put points on the board this season. Ultimately, that will come down to how well fifth-year quarterback Josh Freeman performs. The team drafted Mike Glennon in the fourth round of the April draft but coach Greg Schiano has pegged Freeman as his starter.
"We have a quarterback, it's Josh Freeman," Schiano said earlier this month. "He had a really good spring. I think it's really coming together, being in this system for a second year now and hearing the things over again after being able to study it, I'm really encouraged. I know Mike Sullivan, our offensive coordinator, he's encouraged. We're looking forward to big things. Josh is going to have a big year."
La Canfora notes that should Freeman have success in 2013, Tampa could be looking at facing a quandary of whether to pay him somewhere in the range of $13-$15 million a season given the way young quarterbacks are being compensated in the league these days.