In case you missed it, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded Mike Williams for a sixth-round draft pick today. A surprise move, but not one that was entirely unexpected. Here are five things you need to know about the move.
1. Getting a sixth-round pick for Mike Williams is pretty good.
Mike Williams was a very good number two receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and their only capable player behind an aging Vincent Jackson.
Rick Stroud notes that only two teams were even mildly interested in Williams, despite contacting every single one of them. The sad truth is that Mike Williams' lack of production last year, his off-field headlines and his 2015 salary all combined to depress his value. A sixth-round pick isn't much, but in a deep and talented draft filled with wide receivers, that's about all you could expect for a player of Mike Williams' caliber.
2. The Bucs save $1.8 million in cap space.
That gives them officially around $14 million in total space, but given escalators, draft picks, incentives and in-season spending, they can probably realistically spend around half that in free agency this offseason. Besides, there are precious few players available to spend it on in the first place. Miles Austin and Sidney Rice don't make for particularly attractive or expensive options.
The big savings come next year, though. Williams was set to make $6.2 million in 2015, which would become guaranteed at the start of the next league year. The Bucs were unlikely to pay him that, unless he both improved on the field and managed to completely eliminate the off-field headlines, no matter how minor.
3. A first- or second-round pick spent on a receiver is a near-certainty.
Both offensive guard and wide receiver are big needs for the Buccaneers now, which means the team is almost certain to address those needs in the draft. After all, they don't have much of a choice: no one really worth signing is still available on the open market at this point in free agency.
Receiver's the near-lock for being a top pick here, though, and the Bucs could even spend two high picks at the position. This draft is lousy with quality receivers, with Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans leading the way, but a slew of second-tier guys who could be immediate starters available as well.
4. Gerald McCoy is the only 2009-10 draft pick still on the roster.
This is in part a result of turnover in coaches and schemes, but those coaches aren't so radically different that they couldn't have used quality players -- had the Bucs drafted them. Other players possibly on the way include Luke Stocker, Keith Tandy, Michael Smith and perhaps even Adrian Clayorn and Da'Quan Bowers, although at least those two are almost certain to hang around for another season. Mark Dominik's tenure looks worse and worse as we get farther removed from his tenure.
5. The offense is getting a complete makeover.
So far, the Bucs have brought in Josh McCown, Anthony Collins, Evan Dietrich-Smith and Brandon Myers as new starters. Whoever starts opposite Vincent Jackson this season will be the fifth new starter, while we can consider the third receiver (also likely to be new) and the team's fullback as new starters as well. Add in a possible new addition along the offensive line at either guard spot, and we're left with precious few returning players. Apparently, having one of the worst offenses in the league is not good enough. Who knew?
Do you like the trade?
On the one hand, we don't have to read yet another off-field headline related to Mike Williams (even if all of it is relatively minor), and the Bucs add a sixth-round pick, which is pretty useful given their lack of draft picks this year. They also save $1.8 million on the salary cap this year, and don't have to worry about spending $6.2 million next season.
On the other hand, they now have exactly one capable receiver on their roster in Vincent Jackson and are on track to start Louis Murphy opposite him, barring some additions in the draft (which are sure to come). And it's not like the returns of $1.8 million in cap space and a sixth-round pick are overwhelming, either.
Overall, this is a mixed bag. It feels like the Bucs were intent on saying goodbye to Williams -- but they sure could have used him on the field this season.