Mike Williams' contract extension sends message to every Seahawk
The Seahawks rewarded receiver Mike Williams for a comeback season with a three-year contract extension while telling every player: Seize an opportunity and you'll be appreciated.
Seattle Times staff columnist
RENTON — In the middle of discussing his contract extension, Mike Williams paused and apologized. It may be the first time in sports history that an athlete has said sorry after getting paid.
"Sorry I'm not more excited," the Seahawks wide receiver said. "I promise you, when I signed my deal, I was smiling a lot more."
Big Mike was taken aback by the media crowd encircling him, joking, "Y'all just kind of got me cornered." He was also focused on being the delightfully humble player we've seen since he ventured to Seattle to reunite with Pete Carroll and restart his career.
Try as he might, Williams can't completely cloak his unexpected impact in humility. A day after the Seahawks clinched their first playoff berth since 2007, it was fitting they announced Williams would be with the team for three more seasons. For all the dubious history the Seahawks made in becoming a postseason team with a losing record, Williams stands out as an undeniable, unbridled success story.
He's everything the Seahawks want to become with Carroll in charge, right down to the dominant size he brings to playing receiver. At 6 feet 5 and 235 pounds, Williams is a hulking figure at a finesse position, and after learning some hard lessons and spending two seasons out of the NFL, he willed his way back to where he belongs. And he didn't just sneak back into the league. He became the Seahawks' No. 1 receiver and the barometer for how well the offense plays from week to week.
So the Seahawks didn't just reward Williams for an incredible comeback season. They sent a message to the entire team with this contract.
"I think it's a very obvious statement," Carroll said. "I hope it's clear."
The message: Seize an opportunity, and you will be appreciated. Carroll's beliefs always come back to players competing and earning everything they get. Williams is a prototypical new Seahawk because he went from overweight and lazy to one of the hardest-working and most team-first players on the roster. His stunning revival empowered the Seahawks to cut T.J. Houshmandzadeh and trade Deion Branch because the front office was certain Williams could handle the responsibilities he had earned.
Why, besides the grace of the lousy NFC West, are the Seahawks in the playoffs? Because several young players grew up just enough to allow them to be competitive during a rebuilding season. Williams tops the list of those players.
The receiver turns 27 Tuesday, but in NFL years, he's a little younger because he didn't play the 2008 and 2009 seasons. After failing as a first-round draft pick in Detroit, he wandered to Oakland and then to Tennessee before the league gave up on him. He didn't pout. Even now, after his great comeback, Williams doesn't stand around and bark about the teams that dismissed him too soon. Instead, he focuses more on what he has learned and what he has left to accomplish.
This has been a career year. Williams led the Seahawks with 65 receptions and 751 yards, but he wants more. His numbers could've been better, but he played hurt for most of the season, perhaps an indicator that his body is still adjusting to playing football again. Williams missed two games because of an ankle injury and left in the first quarter of another. He also lost about four quarters of action throughout the games he finished because of various ailments. So, really, he accumulated those catches and receiving yards in about 12 complete games. With better health, he might've caught 80 or 85 passes and topped 1,000 yards.
As Williams did his thing this season, a contract extension seemed inevitable, but there was concern that a little security might cause him to revert to bad habits. Don't see it happening. Williams has come too far. He's too mature now.
Asked if this extension redeems him, Williams said, "I haven't really thought about that. I just look at this extension as an opportunity to play and be accountable and get better."
He mentioned the need to stay loyal to Carroll, who also coached him at USC, and a desire to win big in Seattle.
"I'm happy to be here," Williams said. "I'm happy to be a part of the beginning, and I'm excited. I can't really put it into words, but I'm very blessed.
"I'm happy to rep the 12th. I'm just going to do my part to bring some championships here."
Rep the 12th. That's Big Mike speak for "Represent the 12th Man." With his blue-collar approach, he has repped Seahawks fans perfectly this season. Now, he will continue to do so for at least three more years.
"It's a statement that Mike has come back for real," Carroll said. "He's really made it to the point where he's instilled the confidence in us to go ahead and keep him around a good while. And he's still just getting started."
The Mike Williams story is captivating, a cautionary tale with an inspiring ending. Soon, though, it will no longer be about where he has been. That's because where Williams is headed seems to be just as intriguing.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or email@example.com,
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