Bucs RB Carnell ‘Cadillac’ Williams plans on testing the market as a free agent this offseason. Williams has played six years with Tampa Bay but is now a backup.
Buccaneers running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams has had a rollercoaster six-year run in Tampa Bay. From being named the NFL’s Rookie of the Year in 2005, to suffering two devastating knee injuries in back-to-back seasons in 2007 and 2008, to finishing second as the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year in 2009. After six years in Tampa Bay, Williams is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason and his time as a Buccaneer may be coming to an end. Williams wants to test the free agent marketplace and does not sound interested in re-signing with Tampa Bay until he sees what other options are available. The Bucs' game at New Orleans on Sunday could be Williams last in red and pewter.
“I mean, I am a free agent so I’m going to explore my options,” said Williams. “The Bucs have been good to me. You know I love playing here. The fan base is awesome. We’ll see how things go.”
Williams has fallen to backup duty after the emergence of rookie running back LeGarrette Blount. This year, Williams has carried the ball 124 times for 430 yards (3.5 average) with two touchdowns. Blount, a 24-year old rookie, is only 59 yards away from 1,000 yards on the season. He has carried the ball 182 times for 941 yards with six touchdowns. He has averaged 5.2 yards per carry. The 6-foot, 247-pound Blount has started the last six games over Williams.
As Blount pushed his way into the starting lineup Williams excelled in backup duty as a third down back. Williams enjoyed a better average per carry and performed well for Tampa Bay as a pass receiver and pass protector against the blitz. Williams has a career-high 46 receptions for 355 yards and one touchdown in 2010. With Blount firmly entrenched as the Bucs starter and running back of the future, Williams will explore the open market to see if there is a starting spot available to him or an intriguing competition to be a starting running back. If those opportunities aren’t there Williams is open to re-signing with the Buccaneers and resuming his current role as Blount’s primary backup.
“No doubt. As you say as a professional athlete you always want to explore your options if you have the opportunity,” said Williams. “At the end of the day we’ll see how the thing goes, but I do enjoy playing with these guys. I think [quarterback Josh Freeman] is going to be a heck of player, so is Blount. I like playing here. We’ll see.”
Last year Williams ran for 823 yards (3.9 average) with four touchdowns. His one and only 1,000-yard season came as a rookie when he ran for 1,178 yards with six touchdowns and a 4.1 average. It was the only season where Williams averaged four yards per carry.
The 5-foot-11, 217-pound Williams will be 29 years old next season and has two reconstructed knees. Thus it is unknown what kind of demand there will be for Williams heading into his seventh NFL season. This year Williams played on a one-year tender contract that paid him $2.22 million. Williams is a favorite of current Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen, and of former head coach Jon Gruden. If Gruden gets back into coaching he or Allen could make a push to sign Williams, the player they drafted with the fifth overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.
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