Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik, writes Reynolds, asked for Williams and his agent, Hadley Englehard, to table negotiations until the conclusion of the NFL Draft. It proved to be a busy time for Tampa Bay, as they traded their first-round pick for cornerback Darrelle Revis.
With all of that taken care of, the Buccaneers can refocus their collective efforts on Williams, who is entering the final season of a four-year, $2.3 million rookie contract he signed after being taken out of Syracuse in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay. As Reynolds reports, both sides seem to be highly interested in getting a deal done.
In terms of catches, Williams has been consistent over his first three NFL seasons, snagging 65, 65 and 63 receptions from 2010-12, respectively. He piled up a career-high 996 receiving yards in 2012 and hit his highest yards per catch average at 15.8 yards/reception, adding nine touchdown grabs as well.
The addition of wideout Vincent Jackson prior to the 2012 campaign freed up space on the field for Williams and he took advantage, becoming quarterback Josh Freeman's clear No. 2 receiver. Williams' 127 targets were second only to Jackson's 147, but it was 51 targets higher than tight end Dallas Clark, the team's third-highest targeted receiver.
Over at Bucs Nation, Sander Philipse discusses what sort of contract Williams might be offered based on his production thus far:
Mike Williams has been very productive for a fourth-round pick, but the one year left on his contract will pay him a relatively meager $1.4 million, giving Williams a relatively weak negotiating position ... Williams is more likely to get a contract similar to deals signed by Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker, Danny Amendola and Brian Hartline, averaging around $6 million per year.
The Buccaneers, according to Reynolds' report, should have approximately $12 million in salary cap space.