Make all the jokes you want about Karlos Williams and his fitness level but it got very serious on Saturday when the Buffalo Bills moved on from the talented but troubled running back.
Williams’ weight crept up during the summer and he claimed his spike on the scale was “baby weight,” as he enjoyed a craving or two with his pregnant finance. Others believe the second-year player from Florida State had the munchies on more than a few occasions, considering he was suspended four games for his latest violation of the substance-abuse policy.
Despite all his troubles, however, Rex Ryan originally doubled down on backing Williams earlier this month, a nod to the Sunshine State native’s ultra-productive rookie season in which the big back rushed for 517 yards and seven touchdowns with a gaudy 5.6 yards per rush.
“We’re not going to give up on Karlos Williams. I can tell you that,” the coach said.
Something obviously changed in the ensuing days as Buffalo general manager Doug Whaley explained the decision to cut bait when talking to reporters on Saturday.
“I’ve always said this is a performance-based business and the release of Karlos Williams was strictly performance based,” Whaley claimed. “He came in behind the eight ball and never caught up and there were other guys on the roster that moved ahead of him.
“So in light of that we thought, why hold on to him, why don’t we give him a chance to maybe find another job out there in the league? We weren’t going to hold on to him to the end knowing he wasn’t going to make the team.”
Those “other guys” include the Bills’ bell cow in LeSean McCoy and the recently added Reggie Bush to a reserve group that also includes Mike Gillislee and James Wilder Jr. Williams, though, provided something that nobody in that unit can, a bruising back who could project to wear down opposing defenses.
The real story here is an organization in a bad mood after dealing with a series of inopportune injuries as well as one too many suspensions and off-the-field incidents. Obviously, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcell Dareus is too good a player to send a message with and so is McCoy, who got in a bar brawl with off-duty Philadelphia cops earlier this year.
So, Whaley used Williams to send a message to his locker room.
There’s little doubt that Williams would still be calling western New York home if he stayed in shape and stayed away from marijuana. In fact, an NFL source told TodaysPigskin.com that the Bills moved on from Williams because the organization believes he’s not dedicated enough to his craft.
The young back did show some maturity by thanking the Bills on Instagram after the decision was made and he could probably use a trip to the same rehab Marcell Dareus is entering.
That said, Williams will obviously get another chance in this league and only time will tell if this serves as the wake-up call that sets him on a path toward a productive NFL career.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SBNation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.