Williams was a fourth-round pick in 2010, and reportedly signed a six-year deal with the Bucs worth $40.25 million ($10 million guaranteed) prior to last season. But he never lived up to those expectations.
Last season, Williams appeared in only six games because he sustained a season-ending hamstring injury. He finished with 22 catches for 216 yards and two touchdowns, disappointing numbers for such a highly paid receiver.
Williams’ off-field actions contributed to his release.
Williams was previously charged with trespassing and criminal mischief after having several loud parties at his home. He reportedly agreed to pay more than $43,000 in damages for breaking the rules of his lease.
In addition, Williams was reportedly stabbed in the leg by his brother during a loud disturbance at the receiver's home in March. Bucs general manager Jason Licht reached out to Williams after the incident, but had not received a returned call a day after the incident occurred. Williams’ future in Tampa Bay was on shaky ground after the loud parties, but the fight with his brother seemingly sealed his fate.
"First off, I can’t wait until we start talking about our players on the field,” Smith recently said at the NFL owners meetings. “Off-the-field things do happen. I’ve communicated with Mike, and I have some information that I have to go on right now … I’m aware of the situation with Michael Williams just going forward in general. I don’t believe a guy should get a death sentence on one infraction. I made the statement that I’m not going to kick someone off the team based on them being a victim of what I was initially told. Again, you don’t get a [death] sentence from one incident. You look for a pattern. If a player shows a pattern of behavior that we don’t feel like is what we want displayed by our Tampa Bay Buccaneers then more drastic measures come into play. I’m not to that point right now."
It took a while for Smith to get there, but he finally arrived.
Williams will be reunited with Bills coach Doug Marrone, who previously coached the receiver at Syracuse. Marrone initially said Williams quit the college team, but the receiver denied those allegations. They will attempt to mend that fence in Buffalo.
So far, Smith has traded guard Jeremy Zuttah, released guard Davin Joseph, left tackle Donald Penn and cornerback Darrelle Revis, and signed quarterback Josh McCown to replace Mike Glennon. Williams is the latest to learn Smith is not playing around.
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