Former first-round wide receiver Mike Williams, the 10th overall choice in the 2005 draft but a disappointment with two different franchises during less than three full seasons in the NFL, will get a third chance to prove himself.
Williams on Thursday signed with the Tennessee Titans, who had auditioned him a few weeks ago, and who apparently feel that the former Southern California star can still fulfill his big-time potential. The move reunites Williams with former USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who holds the same position with the Titans. Team officials hope Chow can motivate Williams.
"It's a fresh start. It's moving forward. People are going to
talk about, 'He's this. He's that. Been here, been there.' The past
doesn't matter. I'm moving forward, and I'll just make the most of
this opportunity," Williams told The Associated Press.
"I'm moving forward. Yeah, I took my bumps early in my career.
I'm only 23. It's an opportunity with a team that has a bright
future and is moving forward, something I'm not used to being
Raiders officials gambled that reuniting Williams with first-year head coach Lane Kiffin, with whom he worked at Southern Cal, would resurrect the young receiver's flagging career. But in six games this season, including one start, Williams had only seven receptions for 90 yards and did not score.
Williams said he still has to learn the Titans' playbook but is glad
to be working with Chow. Those who thought his relationship was
strong with Kiffin were a little off the mark.
"We have a relationship, but the relationship with Coach Chow
is a lot different and a lot stronger," Williams said.
Because of his youth and athletic potential, the 23-year-old Williams drew interest from several teams after his release, a few of whom suggested his career might be better served if he converted to tight end. But Williams wanted to remain at wide receiver and Tennessee, which has struggled in recent seasons to develop a young player at the position, will allow him to do so.
Blessed with great size, hands and the acrobatic ability to adjust to the ball in the air, Williams was viewed when he left the Trojans' program as a future Pro Bowl-caliber player. He petitioned to be allowed into the 2004 draft but, because he did not meet NFL eligibility requirements, was denied. The NCAA also denied him the right to return to school, so he sat out the 2004 season.
Still, even with the idle year, many NFL scouts felt Williams would be an impact player when he entered the league. His speed and quickness were always suspect, however, and Williams has battled weight problems as well.
He signed a six-year, $13.5 million contract with the Lions in 2005 that included $8.5 million in total bonuses, but Detroit realized little return on that investment. As a rookie Williams caught 29 passes for 350 yards and one touchdown. But in 28 appearances overall, Williams has only 44 catches for 539 yards and two touchdowns.
Details of the contract Williams signed with the Titans were not immediately available.
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.