It’s official: Mike Williams is here to stay. The Los Angeles Chargers and wide receiver Mike Williams agreed to terms for a three-year, $60 million deal, the Chargers announced on Tuesday.
When asked about the contract, Williams expressed his excitement to stay with the team and, in particular, head coach Brandon Staley.
“I was excited. I was expecting it. Ever since I came here, I felt like they trusted in me, so I kinda expected it. But, you know everything was kinda up in the air, so when I got the news (about the contract), I was excited.”
Williams’s contract extension comes two years after teammate Keenan Allen signed a four-year, $80.1 million deal. That means that the pair of receivers will make 40 million dollars per year, on average.
Here is what this means for the Chargers and for Williams specifically.
Contract is Back-Loaded
Chargers fans on both Instagram and Twitter have been complaining about the absurdly high price tag that comes with the extension. After all, $20 million per year is a pretty hefty price tag for a second wide receiver.
What makes this contract interesting, however, is that it is back-loaded. That means that a large portion of the contract will be fit into the third year of the contract. This allows the Chargers to have more freedom when attempting to pursue other free agents this offseason.
Keeping Williams Was High-Priority
It should be no surprise to anyone that Williams is a key member in the Chargers’ offense. Prior to when Brandon Staley took over as head coach, Williams was primarily utilized as merely a third-and-long and red-zone target. However, under Staley, Williams was able to showcase his versatility. He was still utilized as a deep ball threat, of course, but Staley and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi weren’t afraid to use him as a field carver on short stop routes and quick-outs. That versatility and trust in his talent allowed Williams to put up his best pro season of his career in 2021.
What’s more important about bringing the versatile Williams back, though, is what it means for star quarterback Justin Herbert. In this newer offensive scheme, Herbert and Williams became a lethal tandem, especially in clutch situations. Williams set career highs in receptions (76) and receiving yards (1,146), while also adding 9 touchdowns to the mix. The crazy part of his statline is that six of those nine receiving touchdowns were in tying or go-ahead situations (most in the NFL), making Williams arguably the most clutch in the NFL among active receivers.
Rewriting the Narrative
A major concern among Chargers fans in regards to Williams is his injury history. After missing much of his first season with a lower back injury, fans were concerned that Williams would end up being a bust. However, after his first season without any injuries, Williams seems ready to dispel those concerns.
Williams’s career path seems reminiscent of teammate Keenan Allen. They both showed flashes of talent in their rookie year but dealt with injuries. But after a few years, they each became key parts of the Chargers offense. The only difference is that Allen has already wrote off those injury concerns. Can Williams do the same? Only time will tell.
This contract has major upside for both Williams and the Los Angeles Chargers. Williams gets that elite wide receiver contract that he asked for (with $40 million guaranteed!), and the Chargers lock down a key part of their offense and a favorite target for Herbert. Though it does come with a hefty price tag, especially come 2024 (where Williams will have a base salary of $17 million), locking down Williams was a high priority. Overall, this contract seems like a win-win for both the team and the player, provided Williams stays healthy.