Friday, April 4, 2014

Marrone says his issues with Williams are 'in the past'


The Buffalo Bills gave up a sixth round draft pick for troubled wide receiver Mike Williams on Friday, a player that had fallen out of favor with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after continued off-the-field problems this offseason.

In Buffalo, Williams will be re-united with his coach from his time at Syracuse University, second year Bills head coach Doug Marrone, who experienced some of the wideout's off-field troubles first hand.

In 2009, Williams, then a senior receiver under first-year head coach Marrone, was suspended multiple times after a string of incidents that included violations of university and team rules. He ultimately left the team midway through his final season.

Williams, a Buffalo native, continued his disciplinary issues after departing college and being selected by Tampa Bay in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Most recently, he faced domestic violence charges stemming from a December incident and was a stabbing victim in a separate, unrelated episode in March.

The 6-foot-2 wide receiver's problems seemed to have taken a turn for the more serious since college, but Buffalo's head man thinks he can alter a career course set in motion even before the player quit on his Syracuse team four years earlier.

Marrone announced Williams' departure then, and announced his arrival as a reclamation project on Friday.

"We feel Mike is a player who has the ability to help our team improve," Marrone said, via the Bills' website. "Mike has an opportunity to get a fresh start to his career here in his hometown and regain his form as a productive player in the National Football League."

The Bills' head coach acknowledged the issues the two were involved with at Syracuse, and wants to move forward with his one-time star receiver.

"With regard to our time at Syracuse, I feel that is in the past for both of us," Marrone said.

Williams will join a mostly young Bills receiver corps that led by veteran Stevie Johnson and includes promising prospects Robert Woods, T.J. Graham and speedster Marquise Goodwin.

Based on the terms of his contract (a five-year, $40 million deal signed in 2013), this acquisition amounts to a one-year trial for Williams, to see if he can stabilize his football-playing career. His $6.8 million salary in 2015 is not guaranteed until the third day of that league year, making him expendable at no penalty.

Williams has always had the talent, but time will tell if the off-the-field stuff interferes once again and puts the final nail in his NFL career.

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