Bucs send message with Williams trade

TAMPA, Fla. -- It wasn't quite Greg Schiano's infamous "toes on the line" speech, but new Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith sent a stern message to his team Friday.

By trading wide receiver Mike Williams to the Buffalo Bills for a sixth-round pick in this year's draft, Smith and general manager Jason Licht essentially declared they're not going to put up with off-field issues.

They're not going overboard the way Schiano did. But the Bucs did what needed to be done. They get rid of Williams and his hefty salary and got a draft pick in return. More importantly, the Bucs got rid of a headache.

That's what Williams had become in recent months. He faced a misdemeanor trespassing charge. He also is facing two lawsuits for alleged damage to a rental property. But the incident that drew the most attention was one in which the Bucs initially said Williams was a victim.

That came when Williams was stabbed in the thigh by his brother. Williams told police the two were just horsing around, but witnesses said there was an argument before the stabbing. Williams' brother was arrested.

I don't know whether Williams really was a victim. But I do know he did a fine job of making himself expendable. Williams had been a productive player and, aside from Vincent Jackson, the Bucs have nothing else at receiver. But they were more than willing to unload Williams the first chance they got.

That sends a message to the entire team. Since his hiring in January, Smith has been hailed as a players' coach. That's the exact opposite of what Schiano was. But you can go too far in the other direction. Just ask former Bucs coach Raheem Morris, who was too close to his players and let them walk all over him.

By releasing a productive player, Smith let his team know that on-field ability isn't the only thing that matters.