The Los Angeles Chargers have built an offense around Justin Herbert that could give them an outside shot at competing for a Super Bowl in 2021. But as the franchise moves forward with its franchise quarterback, one of his top wide receivers might not return next season.
Mike Williams, the No. 7 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, entered the league with massive expectations. A 6-foot-4 receiver with the ability to make big plays downfield and in the red zone, he seemed like the perfect complement to Keenan Allen. When the Chargers drafted Herbert, this passing attack got even better.
But Williams has been far from consistent through his first four seasons. Entering the final year of his deal, playing out the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, this could be his last year in Los Angeles.
NFL insider Dan Graziano wrote this week that rookie Josh Palmer is making a strong impression on the Chargers’ coaching staff. If he builds on that confidence and makes plays in the regular season, it wouldn’t surprise Graziano if Los Angeles allowed Williams to leave in free agency next spring.
The report doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Graziano’s colleague, Jeremy Fowler, reported in August that the Chargers wouldn’t sign Williams to a contract extension. Instead, the two sides seemed ready to let things play out this fall.
Injuries have been a problem for Williams during his NFL career. He dealt with a hamstring and back sprain last season, limiting his effectiveness. He also dealt with a knee bruise in 2017, suffered a shoulder sprain in training camp this past season and suffered a disc hernia in college.
The Chargers would certainly be pleased if Williams stays healthy and plays up to his talent level. He snagged a career-high 10 touchdowns in 2018 and followed that up with his first 1,000-yard season in 2019.
If Williams hits the open market in 2022, there will be plenty of teams interested in signing him as their No. 2 wide receiver.