Chargers Mike Williams is making money from the best performance of his career – the NFL Nation

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COSTA MESA, California – Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams made some extra money this season and made a whole bunch of friends he did not necessarily know he had, namely NFL scouts from receiver-hungry teams.

Williams, the Chargers’ first-round pick in 2017, is 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and, oh yes, caught 76 passes for 1,146 yards last season, which recorded career-best in both categories. He is now a free agent and an extremely coveted one?

Williams earned a base salary of $ 15.68 million last season after the Chargers chose his fifth-year option. Pro Football Focus predicts he could sign a $ 68 million four-year deal with an average of $ 17 million and $ 38 million in guarantees. Or the Chargers could pay an estimated $ 18.5 million, according to Spotrac, to nominate Williams as a 2022 franchise player and see how it goes.

In any case, Williams, who is ranked No. 3 in ESPN’s ranking of the best available free agents, is in a great position to add to his bank account.

“I wanted a career year,” he said. “It was the case for me to have a career year. It’s clear that as a team goal I would get into the playoffs and have a chance to play in the Super Bowl, but we fell short of that.”

Not that Williams was to blame. He was spectacular at times last season, especially in Week 11 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Chargers were in trouble, trailing 37-34 late in the fourth quarter after wasting a 17-point lead. Goal quarterback Justin Herbert launched a 53-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Williams who created space and high steps to avoid a tackle before running to the final zone with 2:09 left. The game is over as the Chargers won 41-37 in front of a national television audience on Sunday Night Football.

Williams also had monster games in a Week 3 win over the Kansas City Chiefs (seven receptions, 122 yards, two touchdowns) and in a Week 5 win over the Cleveland Browns (eight catches, 165 yards, two touchdowns). And of course, there’s the Week 18 game against the Las Vegas Raiders, where Williams captured the matching, 12-yard touchdown pass on the final game of regulation to end a 15-point comeback in the fourth quarter of a game that the Chargers eventually lost in overtime.

Chargers, Herbert in particular, looked at Williams with different eyes as the season progressed. He became a big yards-after-catch receiver, no longer just a jump-ball threat of 50-50 throws.

“First time I talked to coach [Brandon] Staley, he said how in the past, when they played against me, they wanted to take the deep ball away because they noticed I did not catch many short passes, “Williams said.” He said he would turn the script and give me a many burglaries, many slopes, many smokes to get the ball in your hands.

“I’m a big body, physical receiver, so I feel like I can play with the ball in my hands. Not just a deep threat, but getting the ball in close proximity and making games that way.”

Williams said he has always had the ability to play on short and intermediate throws, he just wasn’t asked for it until this past season when offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi put more on Williams ’plate.

“Do not get the chance to do that kind of thing,” Williams said. “not even to do it in practice, or see if I would be able to do it. But this year just to have the opportunity to do it. I feel like I’ve shown that I’m good. It was mainly the coaches, their plan was that I should get many more catches because they have seen that I did not have many catches in my career. “

Chargers wanted Williams to take charge and “make things happen after that” instead of strictly relying on his size and jumping ability on challenging throws.

It worked. He had 27 more receptions and 145 more yards than his highlights last season, and with nine touchdown receptions, he was one of his career-highs in that category. Charger’s management took notice.

“Mike is a special player,” said Chargers general manager Tom Telesco. “I knew as soon as I got here how talented he was and what he’s capable of with the 50-50 balls. I do not think he gets enough credit for the routes he runs and the separation.”

And Williams wants to come back and build on that breakthrough, and not because of the chemistry he has with Herbert.

“I do not like change,” Williams said. “I feel like I’ve built some lifelong friendships here with the guys in the organization, on and off the field. I like the organization, the people I come to work with every day.”

Telesco said he would work to make that happen.

“I came down the pitch to the Raiders game in overtime and saw him play in overtime. He gave everything he had … he had nothing left when it came to the end of that game,” Telesco said. “If we had won that match, it would have been an achievement that we would have talked about long after the fact.

“I’m grateful we’ve drafted him and I’m grateful he’s here. We want to find out the future, but he was a big part of this football team this year and has also been in the past.”

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