Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Mike Williams has exhibited a frustrating combination of on-field talent and off-field issues since he came into the NFL as the team's fourth-round pick in 2010 out of Syracuse. And now, those issues have turned dangerous.
On Sunday afternoon, according to several sources, Williams was stabbed in the thigh at his Tampa home. His brother, Eric Baylor, has been accused of the stabbing, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office told NFL Media that an arrest warrant for Baylor has been issued. According to the Tampa Tribune, Williams was released from a hospital Sunday night.
"We are aware of the situation that occurred at the residence of Mike Williams and are working with him and the authorities to get additional information," the team said in a statement. "While we have limited knowledge at this time, our primary concern is for the safety and well being of all involved. We will refrain from further comment until we can get a better understanding of the situation."
Williams has quite a past. He's received 16 traffic citations since he came into the NFL, including a crash with property damage in 2012 and five red-light camera tickets in a span of six weeks in 2013. He's faced threats of eviction from one former residence and had to pay property damages (there have been five 911 calls to his home since last June), and he's currently dealing with trespassing and criminal mischief charges after a December incident.
The 6-foot-2, 221-pound Williams came out of college with first-round talent but a lot of hesitation surrounding his name. He missed the 2008 season due to academic suspension and quit the Syracuse team in 2009 in anticipation of another suspension.
However, the Bucs saw fit to renew Williams' time with the team by way of a six-year, $40.25 million contract in July 2013. It seemed like a decent bet. After all, Williams caught 193 passes for 2,731 yards and 23 touchdowns in his first three NFL season. But he missed 10 games with a hamstring injury in 2013 and reportedly racked up more than $200,000 in fines for being late for and missing mandatory team meetings and injury rehab sessions.
When new Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith spoke frankly about Williams at the 2014 scouting combine, it seemed to be a warning to the player -- and perhaps a precursor to other issues.
"We’ve watched all of the players, so we’ve had a chance to see what Mike has done and not just this past year," Smith said on Feb. 21. "We’re disappointed in some of the off-the-field issues that have come up. We just won’t put up with it. It’s as simple as that. But coming in you have to set your program up on how you’re going to do things, and that takes a while to get that done. But just him as a football player, he was like the rest of the team. Saw some good things that he did, but we need to improve on some also."
Asked at the 2014 combine what Williams had to do to prove himself to the new franchise administration, general manager Jason Licht was succinct.
“He has to prove he shouldn't make headlines off the field. Let's start with that.''
On Monday at the owners meetings in Orlando, Licht told ESPN's Pat Yasinskas that the team hasn't heard from Williams yet
"We've reached out to Mike," Licht said. "We've yet to hear from him. From what I understand, he's been treated and released, so that's a good start. We're trying to gather all the facts we can. Obviously, our primary focus is making sure that he's OK. I know he's been treated and released. I just want to make sure that he's OK and that's our main concern."
Williams is due a $1.2 million base salary plus a $1 million roster bonus for the 2014 season. Releasing him outright would present a cap hit of over $6 million. According to overthecap.com, Tampa Bay currently has a little less than $14 million in available cap room. BANKS: Tampa Bay among 5 non-playoff NFL teams making right offseason moves