Bucs begin locking up nucleus

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began the process of locking up their young nucleus Wednesday morning by agreeing to a six-year contract with receiver Mike Williams.

In a rare move, the team even included the value of the contract ($40.25 million) in the press release announcing the deal, which keeps Williams through 2018.

“We are pleased to have signed Mike to a long-term contract that ensures he will continue to be part of the exciting core of players we are building around," general manager Mark Dominik said. “Mike has earned this contract through his hard work and production the past three seasons and we are looking forward to seeing him continue that career development as a Buccaneer."

In his first three seasons, Williams has caught 193 passes for 2,731 yards and 23 touchdowns and become a favorite of coach Greg Schiano. Williams is firmly established as the No. 2 receiver after Vincent Jackson.

Under Dominik, the Bucs have talked about the importance of building through the draft. The Williams contract marks the next step in that process. Williams is the first of Tampa Bay’s young core players to get an extension, but he probably won’t be the last.

If things go well, players like quarterback Josh Freeman and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy could follow in the future.