ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Receiver Mike Williams’ season in Buffalo is over, and so might be his short stint with the Bills.
The team took the first step in a bid to part ways with the fifth-year player by placing Williams on the waived-injured list on Monday.
The decision opens the door for any team to claim Williams by Tuesday. If unclaimed, the player would then land on Buffalo’s season-ending injured reserve list.
At that point, the Bills could begin negotiating an injury settlement to buy out the four years left on Williams’ contract. He is due a guaranteed $5.2 million base salary next season. Another option would be releasing the player before he is due a roster bonus in March.
Williams hurt his left calf in practice Thursday, and did not play in a 24-17 loss at Denver on Sunday. Williamswas present in the locker room on Monday but gave no indication that the move was forthcoming.
The Bills (7-6), who host Green Bay on Sunday, filled Williams’ roster spot by signing receiver Deonte Thompson off the Baltimore Ravens practice squad. Thompson had 15 catches for 147 yards and also returned kickoffs in 13 games split over the 2012-13 seasons with Baltimore.
It’s a sudden turn of events for the Buffalo-born Williams, who looked forward to enjoying a homecoming after the Bills gave up a sixth-round draft pick to acquire him in a trade with Tampa Bay in April.
Williams’ practice time began diminishing in training camp, and then his playing time dropped over the past two months.
He was inactive in four of Buffalo’s past eight games. And his last catch was an 8-yarder in a 17-14 win at Detroit on Oct. 15.
Overall, he had eight catches for 142 yards and a touchdown this season. That’s a dramatic drop-off for a player who topped 60 catches and 750 yards in each of his first three NFL seasons.
Williams had difficulty understanding the reasons over his lack of playing time.
“I don’t know, I’m not the coach,” Williams said last week. “Everybody’s confused. Even me.”
In October, Williams’ agent Hadley Engelhard sought the Bills’ permission to negotiate a trade for his client.Williams, however, intervened by saying he wanted to remain in Buffalo.
On Monday, coach Doug Marrone said Williams proved to be the odd-man out after the Bills drafted Sammy Watkins in the first round, and second-year receiver Robert Woods claimed the No. 2 job in training camp.
“Obviously, for Mike, I’m sure it’s a frustration,” Marrone said. “I’ve talked to him about that quite a bit during the year. He’s worked extremely hard despite that, and has done everything he can to get back on the field.”
Williams played under Marrone for part of the 2009 season at Syracuse before the two had a falling out.Williams didn’t finish the season, and then elected to enter the draft, when he was selected in the fourth round by Tampa Bay.