When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reached out to unrestricted free agent
Derrick Ward this off-season and subsequently signed him to a four-year deal worth a reported $17 million. The deal includes $6 million guaranteed in the first year, $9.25 million over two years and $13 million over three.
It most likely sealed the fate of oft-injured running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams’ future in Tampa. Williams who’s salary was lowered by $500,000 thousand dollars in 2009, from the $2,594,000 million he was scheduled to earn in base salary to $2,094,000 million due to games missed because of injuries. Williams cap number decreases from $4.574 million to $4.074 million.
Williams, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, no longer seems to be a solid foundation, on which to build upon. After suffering not one, but two torn patellar tendons in opposite knees in back to back seasons he is a shadow of himself since bursting onto the scene in 2005.
Now he faces an uphill battle just to make the club, that is if the team decides not to PUP(Physically Unable to Preform list) him. Shaky as a receiving option on third downs, the team has been scripting plays for second year player, returner extraordinaire Clifton Smith to be used in a similar fashion as Darren Sproles of the Chargers.
Carrying a $4 million dollar price tag – black listed too fourth on the depth chart, might just be too much to carry on the books for a team that has taken a very conservative approach to cap management lately. When you factor in the production they have gotten from him over the last two seasons.
Complicating matters worse, is even before he succumbed to injuries he was very hesitant to square his shoulders and hit the hole forcefully. Now even if he can dust off the rust physically, mentally he is a shell of the player who ran his way into the Hall of Fame in that magical rookie season.