The Bills and Buccaneers have agreed to a trade that will send wide receiver Mike Williams to Buffalo in exchange for a sixth-round pick, a league source tells James Walker of ESPN.com (Twitter link). According to Pro Football Talk (Twitter link), the deal is pending a physical.
We heard back in February that Williams’ future in Tampa Bay was uncertain due to a variety of off-field issues, and an incident last month in which the receiver was hospitalized after being stabbed by his brother only raised more questions. At the time, at least one report suggested that there would limited trade interest in Williams, making it possible that the team would release him at some point. However, it seems as if the Bucs were able to salvage something of value in the deal with the Bills — the sixth-rounder included in the swap will be the 185th overall pick next month.
Williams, a Buffalo native, saw his 2013 season cut short due to a torn hamstring, but flourished with the Bucs from 2010 to 2012, averaging about 64 receptions, 910 yards, and eight touchdowns per year. He’ll join a Bills receiving corps led by Steve Johnson, and will presumably be catching balls from E.J. Manuel in 2014, barring an unexpected change in Buffalo.
The Bills had been seeking receiving help throughout free agency, having been linked to DeSean Jackson and Kenny Britt, among others. Perhaps the team simply didn’t view those players as the right fit for the system, or wasn’t willing to match their asking prices. However, it’s also fair to wonder if it’s simpler for the Bills to trade for a player rather than to convince a free agent to commit to a long-term future in Buffalo, which isn’t one of the league’s perennial contenders or bigger markets.
While Williams is in the midst of a lucrative long-term contract, his 2014 base salary is only $1.2MM, to go along with a $600K workout bonus, so the acquisition represents a fairly inexpensive, low-risk pickup for the Bills. If things don’t work out this time around between Williams and Doug Marrone, his former coach at Syracuse, the team could cut ties with him without being on the hook for any dead money in 2015 or beyond.
As for the Bucs, Williams is the second big-name, big-money player the team has parted ways with this offseason, having previously cut Darrelle Revis. With Williams gone, Vincent Jackson will shoulder more responsibility as the team’s No. 1 receiver, and the position figures to become a greater priority for the club in the draft.
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