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August 3, 2011 @ 4:27 pm
Current rating: 3.67 Stars/3 Votes

The Cadillac Era In Tampa Bay Is Over

Written by Pewter
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Former Buccaneers starting running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams signed a one-year, league-minimum deal with St. Louis. Williams recovered from two devastating knee injuries in the 2007 and '08 seasons to play all 16 games the last two years, but did not regain his speed following the injuries.
The Carnell “Cadillac” Williams era in Tampa Bay is over as the fifth overall pick in the 2005 draft signed a one-year deal [league minimum $685,000] with the St. Louis Rams. The former Auburn star is expected to serve as Steven Jackson’s backup and see action on third down. The Rams have spent the past two off seasons looking for someone to share carries with Jackson, who has carried the ball more than 320 times per game for the past three seasons.

The Gadsen, Alabama native was a fan favorite in Tampa Bay, earning the respect of those who witnessed his remarkable comeback from two major knee injuries during the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris was a big fan of Williams and was sad to see him depart in free agency after a six-year tenure in Tampa Bay.

“Obviously, very similar to Barrett [Ruud] to me,” Morris said. “One of those guys who was definitely a team leader. Of course he will always be remembered for that red 24. And what he brought to our team and what he brought to us. You want to talk about character, blown out knees, coming back two years in a row. We all remember that sentimental injury against Carolina and how he was coming back and how badly we felt for him. Those times you will never forget. It’s the business. But again, you move on and embrace this new battle.”

Williams, 28, has had some emotional, up-and-down seasons with the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay selected the 5-foot-11, 217-pound with the team’s first-round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. During his rookie season, Williams took the league by storm and set an NFL record by rushing for 434 yards in his first three games as a pro. That accomplishment got Williams’ cleats and gloves into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and he would later go on to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

But injuries plagued Williams over the next few years and he suffered a torn patellar tendon in 2007 at Carolina, which ended his season. Williams made a comeback near the end of the 2008 season, but he suffered the same injury on his opposite knee during the season finale against Oakland.

Just when it looked like his career may be in jeopardy, the resilient Williams made another comeback and started all 16 games in 2009, while rushing for 823 yards on 211 carries (3.9 avg.) and scoring four touchdowns. Williams also had 28 receptions for 217 yards (7.8 avg.) and three touchdowns.

Williams entered the 2010 season as the starter in the backfield, but struggled early in the year, averaging 2.5 yards per carry. At the midway point of the season, rookie LeGarrette Blount began to receive the bulk of the carries and Williams was regulated to mostly third down work. He finished last season with 125 carries for 437 yards (3.5 avg.) and two touchdowns. Williams also had a career-high 46 receptions for 355 yards (7.7 avg.) and one touchdown.

During his six seasons in Tampa Bay, Williams had 3,677 yards on 968 carries (3.8 avg.) and 20 rushing touchdowns. He also had 134 catches for 909 yards (6.8 avg.) and four scores.

With Williams no longer an option to compete for the role of the team’s third down back, the Buccaneers seem content to enter the season with Earnest Graham getting the first shot at taking over those duties and the second-team running back spot, behind starter LeGarrette Blount.

While Graham is the front-runner to take over the Williams role, Morris said there are others in the mix.

“[Kregg] Lumpkin, [and] Allen Bradford has stepped into that battle,” Morris said. “We have some other guys. Mossis Madu, some guys that you don’t know their names yet, but you will. We are going to let those guys fight a little bit. Let those guys play.”

– Mark Cook, Charlie Campbell and Scott Reynolds contributed to this report
Last modified on Wednesday, 03 August 2011 18:32
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COMMENTS

  • avatar

    I must say I'm pretty discusted with what we've done in free agancy. ABSOLUTLEY NOTHING!!!! We get rid of Caddy,one of our best weapons,and sign some waterboy trying to play QB, who the f*** is Crompton? Really? BS!!!! Sick of always signing scrubs, very unhappy fan right now!!
  • avatar


    Bucs are gonna' miss Caddy---picking up those blocks and catching out of the backfield in crucial situstions. He really laid it on the line. A very good player he was for Tampa Bay. I wish him the best and hope that he does well. A class act ! Stay healthy, Caddy !!!!!!!!
  • avatar


    NFL - ."No F******* Loyalty."
  • avatar


    I know injuries are a part of the game. I have seen many players laying on the turf in anguish over the years including QB Gary Huff who received his best cheer for getting hurt and allowing his back-up, Jeb Blount to enter the game. But I must say when Caddy got hurt in the Raiders game, tears came to my eyes as a hush went over the stadium. The team was so distraught over it they lost focus on the game and ended up losing. Good luck Caddy!
  • avatar

    Thx Caddy you will be missed you gave it all you had thats all we can ask for
  • avatar


    Thanks for everything you've done for the team Caddy...we're gonna miss ya. I'm glad I got an autographed jersey before you left the team. I'll never forget what the coach at Auburn told the scouts, coaches and GM's before we drafted him. "He has a heart as big as Florida. You guys are gonna love him!" We certainly did. Enjoy the rest of your career Cadillac Williams!
  • avatar

    Thank you Caddy & good luck!
  • avatar


    Caddy will be missed, as he epitomized what it is to be a true football player. A lesser man would have stayed on the sidelines 3 years ago. Much like Ruud, I believe we've lost some knowledge with Caddy gone and hope that somebody is ready for blitz pickup (unless the plan is to utilize a lot of empty sets on 3rd downs).
  • avatar

    Over 320 carries per game!? WOW! hahaha
  • avatar

    Tampa and its fans are going to miss you Caddy! You're an inspirational player and Tampa's lucky to have had you as part of the organizatoin. Best of luck!
  • avatar


    Such a shame injuries robbed what could of been a great back, thanks for the years caddy, wish nothing but the best for you.
  • avatar


    Once again loyalty, and an incredible work ethic is rewarded through the new CBA. Maybe the union screwed up! Veterans don't seem to be getting rewarded as many have thought. Keep your head on a swivel Graham. The handwritings on the wall. Go Bucs? Kool - aid drinkers...... Welcome!
  • avatar

    Thanks and best of luck Caddy.. A class act indeed
  • avatar


    Thanks also to Caddy. He is someone who has talent and heart.
  • avatar


    Thanks for the service, Cadillac....wish you could have stayed healthy, and I hope we will know what we are doing on 3rd down.
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