When the Seahawks brought
The 6-foot-5 receiver was signed to a one-year contract, despite having been out of the league the past two seasons. He worked his way into the starting split end spot. He ended up leading the NFC West champions in receptions (65) and receiving yards (751).
Monday, less than 24 hours after scoring the only touchdown in the Seahawks’ division-clinching victory over the St. Louis Rams at Qwest Field, it was announced that Williams has signed a three-year contract extension.
“I was talking with some friends, and they were saying they didn’t even expect me to be here,” Williams said. “They thought I would come here and get released and then maybe make it somewhere else.
“So no, I didn’t expect things to go like they have at all.”
Williams has found an NFL home after previous stints with the Detroit Lions, who made him the 10th pick in the 2005 draft; Oakland Raiders, who obtained him in a 2007 trade; and Tennessee Titans, who signed him in November of that year after he was released by the Raiders.
In three previous NFL seasons, and 30 games, he caught 30 passes for 539 yards and two touchdowns. In 14 games with the Seahawks this season, Williams equaled the TD catches and surpassed the other two marks.
That he played for coach Pete Carroll at USC got Williams the tryouts. That he has turned his career – and life – around got him where he is today.
“It’s a statement in a couple different directions,” Carroll said of the team’s commitment to Williams, and his commitment to the team and his former college coach. “It’s a statement that Mike has come back for real, and he’s really made it to the point where he’s instilled the confidence in us to go ahead and keep him around for a good while.
“And he’s still just getting started. Mike’s return, we don’t know – none of us know the impact of being out two years and then just a couple years ago another year (between leaving USC and entering the NFL draft). He has not been consistently involved in the competitive arena like you would like. But we’ve seen tremendous signs from him, and his character and order, and his will to be a terrific football player is really here at hand.”
The Carroll factor loomed large in Williams’ decision to sign the extension that was first discussed at midseason.
“I always felt like I needed to be loyal to coach Carroll,” said Williams, who turns 27 on Tuesday. “He gave me an opportunity. Obviously there was some excitement about maybe free agency and the possibilities. But I knew I wanted to be here and if we could get close to where I wanted to be I was going to make it happen.”
Williams said he loves the city and likes the fans, in addition to the obvious loyalty to Carroll.
“We’re going to do some special things here,” he said. “So I’m glad to be a part of it.”
But he has been reluctant to discuss the past that has led to his much-brighter future.
“I haven’t really thought about that,” he said when asked about the quantum leap he has made in the past nine months. “I just look at this extension as another opportunity to play. To be accountable and play better.”
Still, the chance to remain with the Seahawks means a lot to a player who was without a team for too long.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I can’t even put it into words. I’m very blessed.”
Except that the humble Williams was subbed when he said that. Very much so.
“Sorry I’m not more excited,” he said. “When I signed my deal, I promise you I was smiling a lot more.”