Williams agrees to multiyear contract

Updated: July 29, 2005, 9:16 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

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 he 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.

ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli reported that the five-year contract can be worth more than $30 million. It includes guaranteed bonus money of $13.115 million.

"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," coach Jon 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 -- a speedy 217-pounder who rushed for 1,165 yards and 12 touchdowns in helping Auburn to a 13-0 record last season -- 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."

Allen never considered the status of Brown and Benson to be a hindrance in talks with Williams.

"None of those contracts were ever going to affect us if they're holding out," the general manager said. "Instead of worrying about that, we just focused on what's right for Carnell and what's right for the Bucs."

Although Williams was introduced to Gruden's playbook during two mini-camps and the club's offseason program, the coach stressed it still was essential to get the contract done and avoid a lengthy holdout.

The offense was set back a year ago when veteran receiver Keenan McCardell missed all of camp in a contract dispute. He remained out until the Bucs traded him to San Diego in mid-October.

"I was going to change his name to Dodge Ram if he didn't get in here on time," Gruden joked. "We didn't draft this guy with the intent of bringing him along slowly. We plan on putting him in there and letting him play quickly."

Information from ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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