Jun 11, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams (19) workouts during mini camp at One Buccaneer Place. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Why Have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Not Come To Terms On An Extension With Mike Williams?

Update: 3:50 PM Saturday July 13 – Mike Williams took to Twitter to clarify his situation. See our story about the meaning of his tweets by clicking here.

Mike Williams wants a contract extension. He wants to be making the type of money Victor Cruz just pulled in, and he recently took to Twitter to relay that message not as cryptically as he might have liked.

Less than two hours later he realized his message was taken exactly like he intended it to be and he sort of retracted it.

All of this Twitter madness aside, the fact remains, Mike Williams has not gotten his much coveted extension. This leads me to wonder the looming question, why not?

December 23, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams (19) catches the ball as St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins (21) attempts to defend during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. St. Louis Rams defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28-13. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Any time we discuss money in the NFL the first factor is always salary cap implications of signing, re-signing, extending, trading, or releasing a player. Right now, the Buccaneers cap number is good, but as we move forward the checkbook will get a little tighter, especially if Josh Freeman has a big year and commands Flacco/Stafford-esque money. But I have a hard time believing that future cap room is the reason Bucs GM Mark Dominik hasn’t put pen to paper with #19.

So that leads me to my next thought, is there some sort of riff between Williams and the Buccaneer organization? I’ve never felt this way before, and only the first of those two tweets has ever even remotely smelled that way. Any time contracts and the business aspect of football comes in we see hostility and unhappiness from players, but it usually doesn’t mean real malcontent for the franchise. So I’ll brush that theory to the side as well.

That brings me to my last idea, and the one I think is the most likely to be true. The Buccaneers want Mike Williams to be fired up to have a good year. Just like the idea with Freeman, Tampa Bay wants some of the key cogs to its future to step up and prove themselves in what is shaping up to be a very important year for the franchise.

The Buccaneers already have a lot of money invested in players like Carl Nicks, Vincent Jackson, Darrelle Revis, and Dashon Goldson. Therefore, they have to be sure that adding Freeman and Williams to that mix is 100% the right move. Dominik appears to be willing to spend a few (multiple millions) extra dollars to be sure. The Buccaneers found themselves with an abundance of cap space, they’ve used it on players most of us really like, but every one they add they further cement the roster. Dominik knows the more he locks in, the more the onus of failure falls on him.

By waiting on Williams and Freeman, Dominik is gambling, and gambling a lot. He might end up spending almost double in order to keep both guys in pewter and red next season, but that risk must outweigh the risk of Williams and/or Freeman not stepping up this season. If one or the other isn’t a franchise player, Dominik will look like a genius, if they both are, he’ll just have to pony up some more money to keep them around. It seems like a win win.

The only problem is that if both play well, Dominik will have to fend off other teams, and it will likely cost Tampa Bay a chance at another high level free agent. There’s no question Dominik understands the ramifications. My only guess is he’s thinking if Williams and Freeman are good, he’s already created a winner and won’t need to add too many more pieces.

I don’t often disagree with Mark Dominik’s decisions, but in this case I do. I think both Freeman and Williams are good players, and will be cheaper today than they will be at the end of 2013. I’d rather lock them both in and save some cash to add that one more piece. If Freeman is as good as I think he can be, he’ll be a steal at the current market value, Williams the same. The current roster is very good, but I always like the idea of being able to add one more high level player. The way Dominik is heading, he might just handcuff himself. We will just have to wait and see.

 

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