Perhaps inspired by the Royal Blue magic they have been watching happen across the Truman Sports Complex parking lot over the last three seasons, the Kansas City Chiefs signed wide receiver Mike Williams to a one-year contract on Monday. The signing was first reported by the league on NFL.com and later by Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star.
The Chiefs can only hope that this reclamation project works out as well for them as players such as designated hitter Kendrys Morales and pitchers Chris Young, Ryan Madson, and Jeremy Guthrie worked out for the Royals. Several moves like these have played a big part in the Royals being a two-time defending American League Champion and the reigning World Series champs.
Williams, 28, was a fourth-round pick (101st overall) out of Syracuse for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2010 NFL Draft and made an immediate splash in the league by starting 47 of 48 games from 2010-2012. The 6-2, 205-lb receiver demonstrated a nose for the end zone catching 193 passes for 2,731 yards and 23 touchdowns in those first three seasons. In July, 2013 the Bucs rewarded him with a six-year contract extension worth $40.5 million.
Unfortunately as sometimes happens to 25-year olds that hit the contact lottery, an immature Williams began a litany of off-field issues in a rented “party house” (reported by Greg Auman and Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times) that began to creep onto the field. Williams missed the final 10 games of 2013 with a hamstring injury and apparently spent much of his rehab time working as part of a rap group that had explicit lyrics that would make former Chiefs running back Larry Johnson blush.
That was enough for Tampa to trade the talented receiver to the Buffalo Bills the following April for a sixth-round pick, but things did not go much better for Williams there, either. A calf injury limited him to nine games in which he caught only nine passes for 142 yards and a touchdown before getting released in December 2014.
Williams was suspended by the NFL for the first six weeks of the 2015 season for undisclosed reasons and was not picked up by another team, perhaps understandably because of his past issues.
If a year away from football and the hoped for maturity of turning 29 in May gets Williams’ head screwed on right, the Chiefs may have found a perfect complement to Jeremy Maclin on the field. If he exhibits his old bad behaviors, a one-year contract at what is probably the league minimum salary won’t kill the Chiefs under the salary cap and they can cut him loose.
Williams worked out with the Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots this offseason before signing his deal with the Chiefs. He will fight it out with Albert Wilson, Chris Conley, and newly-signed free agent Rod Streater for a starting spot on the field and hopefully no drama off the field.