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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Williams wants to be Buc for life

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Published:   |   Updated: July 25, 2013 at 09:40 AM

TAMPA - Although he now has a chunk in his wallet, Mike Williams has no intention of removing those chips on his shoulder.

The 26-year-old Buccaneers wide receiver reported to training camp in style Wednesday, signing off on a six-year contract worth $40.25 million.

"I feel blessed," said Williams, who was entering the final season of his four-year rookie deal. "I want to be a Buc for life. This is everything I wanted and I can't wait to get camp started."

The five-year extension, which includes $15 million in guaranteed money, keeps Williams under contract through 2018.

Helped by the addition of free-agent wide receiver Vincent Jackson, Williams rebounded from a subpar 2011 season to average 15.8 yards on 63 catches last season. His 996 receiving yards fell just 4 yards short of giving quarterback Josh Freeman a pair of 1,000-yard targets, with Jackson tallying 72 catches for 1,384 yards.

"Mike's been extremely productive and he has bought into who we are and what we're doing," said Bucs general manager Mark Dominik, who negotiated with agent Hadley Engelhard for a year before the deal was finalized. "Mike's a big reason why we're building an explosive offense."

In 2010, Williams was disappointed he was still on the draft board in the fourth round when the Bucs selected him out of Syracuse, where he started 22 games and caught 20 touchdown passes. He was outstanding as a rookie, leading all NFL first-year receivers in catches (65), yards (964) and touchdowns (11) while setting a franchise record for most receiving touchdowns as a rookie.

"It kind of put a chip on my shoulder to prove everybody wrong," Williams said. "Then I thought about it and figured, 'Just be Mike and show them who you are.' Now, I'm relieved. Everybody kept bringing (the contract extension) up and I was trying to go out and just play. Now that it's done, that's what I can do."

Wednesday's deal should help Williams avoid distractions, second-year offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said.

"Mike's worked very hard," Sullivan said. "Now he can focus on football and zero in on being the best receiver he can be."

Jackson led the NFL by averaging 19.2 yards per catch and Williams labeled the former Chargers standout the best receiver in the league. Bucs coach Greg Schiano feels fortunate to have his productive wideout tandem.

"We're blessed to have Mike now for the long term," Schiano said. "The way he plays and practices the game is really important to me. This is a guy who loves football."

Williams excels as a boundary receiver, drawing comparisons to Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter in making acrobatic catches near the sideline or the back of the end zone while displaying rare body control.

He was, and remains, a driven man.

"That was one of the chips on my shoulder, too," Williams said, referring to the other receivers in the 2010 draft class. "All the guys that were taken over me that they said ran routes better than me. I'm going to be the same Mike Williams - run hard, play fast, jump over everybody."

ikaufman@tampatrib.com

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