Big Mike Released

Offensive lineman Mike Williams was released by the Bills on Thursday, allowing the Bills to save more than $3 million in salary cap space for next season. Williams had two years left on his contract, and was scheduled to count about $10.8 million against the cap next season. Williams was due a $3 million roster bonus in July

"Salary cap issues certainly fit into that," general manager Marv Levy told Buffalo's WIVB-TV, while attending the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. "There's some difficult decisions that have to be made and we would like to address them early if we can. ... It's never fun to release a player."

Williams' release comes a day after the Bills designated cornerback Nate Clements their franchise player, retaining his rights by offering him a $5.89 million contract.

His future was in question in Buffalo even before team president Tom Donahoe was fired in January and coach Mike Mularkey resigned a week later. He lost his starting job at right tackle to undrafted free agent Jason Peters midway through the season. Levy, who replaced Donahoe, also questioned Williams' ability and work ethic as recently as last week. A former star at Texas, Williams was the first off ensive lineman selected in the 2002 draft. A top run blocker in college, he struggled in pass situations, a knock that prevented the team from using him at left tackle - a more demanding position.

Williams' off-field problems led to further questions. He was fined by the team after being unexcused for a training camp session in 2004. Williams, who also missed numerous optional minicamps earlier that spring, cited undisclosed personal reasons for missing practice.In 2003, Williams flipped his truck and hurt his shoulder, forcing him to miss the game.

Williams was selected by the Bills with the fourth overall pick in the 2002 Draft and was Buffalo's highest draft pick since Bruce Smith (#1 overall in 1985). The former Texas standout started 47 games during his four years with the Bills

Williams' agent, David Dunn, declined comment.

The Bills and Marv Levy still have to decide the fate of Bills WR Eric Moulds, the most tenured Bill remaining on the roster. He has been with the team since 1997. The Bills also must determine whether to retain the veteran receiver, who is scheduled to make $10.8 million in the final year of his contract next season. Levy has expressed interest in attempting to restructure Moulds' contract.

( compiled from wire reports)

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