Did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Overpay for Mike Williams?

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterJuly 24, 2013

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed wide receiver Vincent Jackson in 2012 to a five-year, $55.5 million contract, it did more than bring a perennial 1,000-yard receiver to Tampa. It allowed fellow receiver Mike Williams to slide over to a more suitable No. 2 spot in the offense.

Everything just fell together at that point with the duo. Right as rain.

Jackson caught 72 passes and inked 1,384 yards into the books. Williams caught 63 passes, set a career high with 996 yards receiving and caught nine touchdown passes.

On Wednesday, Williams got paid for his accomplishments.

Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune reported Williams signed a five-year contract extension that takes the place of the final year on Williams’ current contract. The entire six-year deal is worth $40.25 million with $15 million guaranteed.

Just more than $40 million sounds like a huge chunk of change. But if you look at performance on the field, Williams’ contract is just about right from a dollars-and-cents standpoint.

There were only 19 NFL receivers who posted more receiving yards in 2012 than Williams. If you look at the veterans (players still on their rookie pay scale weren’t used because their salary would skew too low) who landed just above and below Williams, you’ll see interesting names and salaries.

Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson signed a five-year, $36 million deal in 2012 and finished the year with 1,046 receiving yards. New Orleans receiver Lance Moore, who signed a five-year, $20 million deal in 2011, landed at 1,041 receiving yards.

Dallas Cowboys receiver Miles Austin and San Francisco 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin, who played for the Baltimore Ravens in 2012, came in just behind Williams with 943 and 921 receiving yards, respectively. Austin makes much more than Williams’ new contract, while Boldin makes less.

By examining Williams’ nine touchdown catches last season and the veterans who produced similarly, New Orleans Saints receiver Marques Colston and New York Giants speedster Victor Cruz each caught 10 touchdown passes. Michael Crabtree of the 49ers tied Williams with nine, and Washington Redskins receiver Santana Moss caught eight.

Cruz's contract is bigger than Williams’ but not by much. Colston’s is comparable, Crabtree's is close and Moss' is well below. Only nine receivers in the league caught more touchdown passes than Williams last season.

Two receivers who landed near Williams on the receptions list make more money: new Miami Dolphins pass-catcher Mike Wallace and new Seattle Seahawks receiver Percy Harvin. Wallace caught one more pass than Williams’ 63 last season and signed a five-year, $60 million contract in March. Harvin’s contract is for six years and $67 million, and he caught two passes fewer than Williams.

No one is going to confuse Williams' skills with the all-around explosiveness Harvin possesses or the take-the-top-off-the-defense speed Wallace has. But from a pure output point of view, when it comes to receptions, this trio is similar.

Roy Cummings sent out a tweet Wednesday boasting about Williams’ numbers since he was drafted in 2010.

Of all the WRs from the 2010 draft class, only Dez Bryant has outperformed the Bucs Mike Williams , who has 193 rec.., 2,731 yds, 23 TDs

— Roy Cummings (@RCummingsTBO) July 24, 2013

Williams has been extremely consistent in his three pro seasons, catching between 63 and 65 passes, and never dipping below 771 yards receiving. But Cummings did bring up a valuable point in a follow-up tweet.

Bucs WR Mike Williams becomes the first WR without a 1,000-yard season to sign a contract worth $40 million or more

— Roy Cummings (@RCummingsTBO) July 24, 2013

Williams has landed just below 1,000 yards twice in his career. He missed by 36 yards in 2010, his rookie season, and by four yards last year.

It’s possible the Buccaneers paid a little more than the going rate because the team’s coffers were pretty full from a cap status point of view, but the team didn’t overpay.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.

Knox Bardeen is the NFC South lead writer for Bleacher Report and author of 100 Things Falcons Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. Be sure to follow Knox on Twitter.