One of the feel-good stories of the 2010 NFL season involved Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Mike Williams, the 10th overall pick out of USC by the Detroit Lions who produced just 44 receptions for 539 yards and two touchdowns in 30 games before eating himself out of the league as he ballooned to over 270 pounds. Williams received a tryout from his former college head coach Pete Carroll, made the Seahawks' 53-man roster and led the team with 65 receptions and 751 yards, adding two regular-season touchdowns before signing a three-year, $11.25 million contract extension and adding three receiving touchdowns in the playoffs.
Williams' production dropped substantially in 2011. In 12 games, including 10 starts, Williams caught just 18 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown before he suffered a broken ankle that landed him on injured reserve in December. According to Dan Pompei of the National Football Post, Williams' drop in production was due to the receiver reverting "back to some of his old lazy habits" and his not staying in shape "contributed to him not staying healthy last year."
Weight will always be an issue for Williams, but I'm not so sure it played a role in his poor 2011 season.
Looking back at the Seahawks' injury reports from last season, Williams appeared three times. In Weeks 5 and 7 he was listed for a concussion he sustained while delivering a block that sprung Marshawn Lynch for an 11-yard touchdown in the third quarter of a Week 4 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, and in Week 9 for a hamstring injury that limited him in Wednesday and Thursday practices that week. That Sunday, Williams caught three passes for 41 yards, with the yardage being his highest output of the season. Williams' contract also contains $150,000 weight clauses, which he presumably met in 2011. During an informal player workout during the lockout, Williams appeared to be in shape and discussed the six hours of cardio per day he was doing in the offseason.
While meeting weight requirements do not necessarily mean a player is in shape, a bigger issue for Williams' drop in production was who was playing quarterback for the Seahawks in 2011. At 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, Williams is not a receiver who is going to gain much separation from opposing defensive backs. Matt Hasselbeck had developed a quick rapport with Williams and trusted him to make a contested catch, which he made plenty of during his comeback season. Whether it was due to the lockout, Williams did not have that relationship with Tarvaris Jackson, who was so fearful of being intercepted, he would not throw those "50-50 balls" towards Williams, whose number of targets dropped from a team-high 110 in 2010 to 38 in 2011.