4 Los Angeles Chargers Wide Receiver Targets To Replace Mike Williams

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The identity of the Los Angeles Chargers offense is changing with the arrival of head coach Jim Harbaugh. Between the arrival of a new run-oriented team and salary-cap issues created by the previous era, wide receiver Mike Williams is likely in his final days in Los Angeles. That means it’s time to find his replacement.

The Chargers don’t have the necessary cap room to replace Williams with a high-end No. 2 receiver who is proven at this level. While they could find that atop the 2024 NFL Draft, taking one of the generational talents at the position, it’s highly unlikely for this new Chargers regime. So, it comes down to finding Williams’ replacement on Day 2 of the NFL Draft or in free agency.

Related: Los Angeles Chargers free agency tracker 2024

Here are our top Chargers wide receiver targets to replace Williams.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, free agent

Syndication: The Tennessean
Denny Simmons / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORKCredit: Denny Simmons / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine certainly isn’t a No. 2 receiver, but we’re looking for players who can slide into different roles. It’s why Los Angeles signed Will Dissly, because he’s one of the best run-blocking tight ends in the NFL. For similar reasons, we’re highlighting Westbrook-Khine as an option for Los Angeles.

Related: Los Angeles Chargers mock draft 2024

Making his way into the league as an undrafted free agent in 2020, the 6-foot-2 wideout had to do the little things to earn reps in practice and gain the trust of coaches. That meant refining his route-running and being both a willing and effective blocker. Westbrook-Ikhine performed very well as a run blocker in Tennessee and while that’s one of the main reasons we’re highlighting him, it’s not the only one.

While he only drew 8 targets 20-plus yards downfield last season, per PFF, Westbrook-Ikhine turned those opportunities into 3 receptions for 149 receiving yards and a 125.0 QB rating when targeted during the 2022 season. He wasn’t as efficient in 2023 – 3 receptions, 89 yards, and 108.1 QB rating – but that’s largely a product of the Tennessee Titans’ quarterback situation. Westbrook-Ikhine would be a fine No. 4 receiver.

Odell Beckham Jr, free agent

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at San Francisco 49ers
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Some might see the name Odell Beckham Jr. listed as an option for the Chargers and question the reasoning. No, he isn’t the All-Pro wideout we saw dominate cornerbacks like he did with the New York Giants. However, even after two ACL tears as a 31-year-old wide receiver, he was much better than most fans outside of Baltimore realized down the stretch last season.

Related: Examining 4 Los Angeles Chargers trade-down scenarios in 2024 NFL Draft

Once he got settled in after a year away from football and got into a rhythm with the Baltimore Ravens offense, Beckham Jr. was extremely efficient when on the field. He recorded the fourth-highest yards per route run (2.93) among receivers from Weeks 8-14, earning a 118.6 QB rating when targeted. If we wind the clock back further, those numbers are similar to what Beckham Jr. did during the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl run in 2021 (2.55 yards per route run and a 141.3 QB rating when targeted). Plus, he’s proven that he’s willing to run block and that is half the battle with wide receivers.

Ja’Lynn Polk, Round 2 of 2024 NFL Draft

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Washington at Michigan
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The best option for Los Angeles is to replace Mike Williams via the 2024 NFL Draft. Again, it seems highly unlikely Harbaugh and general manager Joe Hortiz use the fifth overall pick at the position. However, there are compelling arguments to grab someone on Day 2 considering the depth of the position.

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We’ll start with the first positive that the Chargers coaching staff will love. Ja’Lynn Polk is a very willing and physically skilled blocker who is ready to both initiate contact and keep up that effort through the play. For a run-oriented team, that will help keep the rookie on the field. Second, his combination of length, body control, eye tracking, and strong hands make him exceptional for contested catches. He won’t necessarily create a ton of separation and a lack of high-end athleticism lowers his ceiling, but he can be the ideal No. 2 receiver for the Chargers’ offense.

Brenden Rice, Round 3 of 2024 NFL Draft

NCAA Football: UCLA at Southern California
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If Los Angeles wants to wait until a little later on Day 2 to snag its Williams’ replacement, they might be able to save on moving costs. Just a drive away is USC Trojans wideout Brenden Rice, who certainly has great NFL bloodlines as the son of one of the best NFL players ever.

Rice isn’t his father by any means, but he doesn’t have to be. At 6-foot-2, he does the things that quickly earn the trust of quarterbacks. Rice can transition quickly in his routes and he knows how to set up cornerbacks with little moves to position himself better for the football. When things break down, as they did often at USC because of the Trojans’ offensive line, he also excels at working his way back toward the quarterback to make himself an easier target. He would likely be a No. 3 receiver to start in Los Angeles, but he won’t need much coaching before seeing the field.