Williams agrees to multiyear contract
Friday, July 29, 2005
Associated Press

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Rookie running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams made good on a promise to get into training camp for Tampa Bay's first practice, signing a multiyear contract Friday with the Buccaneers.

The former Auburn star was the fifth player selected in this year's draft and finalized the deal shortly after midnight before meeting with general manager Bruce Allen and making the hour drive from Tampa to the team hotel in nearby Celebration, arriving shortly after 2 a.m.

"I stressed to my agent that I definitely wanted to be there on the first day, compete for a starting job and contribute to the team as soon as possible," Williams said.

Although the speedy 217-pounder who rushed for 1,165 yards and 12 touchdowns in helping Auburn to a 13-0 record last season participated in the first workout, he technically was a holdout because the rest of the team reported on Thursday.

Coach Jon Gruden was not concerned, though. He said the two sides had agreed in principle, but needed time to iron out some minor details.

"He wanted to get in here. ... There was no way he was going to miss a practice. He told me that when we [drafted] him. He delivered his end of the bargain," Gruden said. "This kid wants to make an impact immediately. And I think he understands to do that, he's got to be out here with his teammates."

The Bucs ranked 29th among 32 teams in rushing a year ago, and are counting on Williams to add a dimension the offense has lacked since Warrick Dunn signed with Atlanta as a free agent in 2002 -- a runner capable of breaking long runs every time he touches the ball.

The rookie was one of three running backs selected among the top five picks in the draft and will compete with incumbent Michael Pittman for the starting job.

Former Auburn teammate Ronnie Brown, selected second by the Miami Dolphins, and Cedric Benson, picked fourth by the Chicago Bears, are unsigned. There was speculation Williams might not sign before the other two had deals.

"I feel like my agent did a good job, along with Bruce. Therefore, I didn't feel like there was a big need for me to wait on those guys," Williams said. "My main thing is getting on the field and contributing as soon as possible."