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.
Time and time again as a college student in the Facebook and Twitter era, I was told to “be careful what I put online!” because “employers REALLY DO read those things” and judge applicants accordingly. I found that difficult to believe, considering the friends I have, the jobs they were hired for, and the things they put on Twitter. But there is a point at which employment and social media have an undeniable intersection, and that point was discovered recently by Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ wide receiver Mike Williams.
Everyone knows that Mark Dominik is a no-nonsense General Manager, never one to fill the media with meaningless fluff quotes, and known for his somewhat unconventional but completely reasonable techniques (such as not offering signing bonuses, and the premium he places on team captaincy during NFL Draft preparation). So when his wide receiver who is publicly known to be in the midst of contract with the team starts tweeting out caps lock nonsense about “not being wanted” and lacking in loyalty, it’s probably going to rub him the wrong way.
My colleague Ken wrote about the lack of an extension for Williams yesterday, and spoke about his disappointment that Dominik may be missing the boat on securing one of the Buccaneers more important players heading forward.
I would be inclined to agree with Ken had I not seen the Twitter hysterics the wide receiver has given us over the past weeks. Especially because Williams himself knows he’s gone over the line, as he’s been deleting tweets regularly, keeping only a handful of tweets on his account which has been active for some time.
Williams is not irreplaceable. In fact, he’s far from it. And while there has been plenty of speculation lately that Williams may want the same sort of contract recently inked by Victor Cruz, the truth is that he deserves something more in line with the contract received by Brian Hartline this offseason. None of these receivers are capable of being a number one option for their respective teams, with Hartline showing flashes of being a capable primary target more than Cruz has recently. Take a look at this article from Bleacher Report from earlier this year which includes this fantastic tidbit of information that reveals the truth about Cruz:
In the three games Hakeem Nicks missed due to injury in 2012, Cruz totaled 13 catches and 115 yards, outproduced by teammates Rueben Randle and Ramses Barden. His pedestrian numbers during that stretch support the argument that Victor Cruz struggles to deal with added attention by the defense.
While it’s possible to argue the small sample used in this example, the point for Williams is that he’s even more prone to being neutralized without a strong number one receiver present. Even Cruz has proven the ability to have a big game apart from Hakeem Nicks (Week 17 of 2011, for example, where he hauled in six passes for 178 yards against Dallas), whereas Williams has only eclipsed 100 yards four times in his career, three of which came with Vincent Jackson on his opposite flank. The other came against the Arizona Cardinals during Williams’ rookie season, where he had 4 catches for 105 yards, and considering the helpless nature of the 2010 Cardinals, this is hardly a feat.
Cruz has been far more productive during his two healthy seasons than Williams has over his three seasons, hauling in almost 20 more yards per game, and scoring touchdowns on a more frequent per-game basis. Comparing Cruz to Williams is a bit asinine, to be honest, as Williams has yet to prove he has consistent big play ability, especially when faced with the focus of a defense.
So if Williams wants to tweet about the Buccaneers lacking in loyalty, he is free to do so. But I suspect he is asking for more money than he’s worth, especially if Victor Cruz’s name is being tossed around at the negotiations. And with the immature display Williams has shown during this fiasco, it likely downgrades him even further in the eyes of Buccaneers’ GM Mark Dominik, and especially in the eyes of head coach Greg Schiano, who has to be disgusted by the selfish nature of Williams’ actions.
Josh Freeman wants a new contract just as much as Williams does, but Freeman has carried himself like a consummate professional all offseason long. And number two wide receivers are much more easily replaced than number one quarterbacks. So if it were up to me, I would allow Williams the privilege of facing the free agent market, rather than caving to his Twitter tantrum. The NFL Draft will have wide receivers who will be able to play across from Vincent Jackson, and there will be no shortage of interesting options in free agency next summer, as well. So save the six or eight million dollars, and allow Mike Williams, and his Twitter account, to go find a big paycheck elsewhere.