The Los Angeles Chargers had the luxury of two 1,000 yard wide receivers in 2021, with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams both reaching 1,100 yards through 16 games each. This isn’t unfamiliar territory, as both reached 1,000 yards back in 2018 as well. If only one had reached those heights, this probably wouldn’t be a discussion, but the Los Angeles Chargers need to decide whether or not Williams returns.
Should the Los Angeles Chargers Bring Back Mike Williams?
Williams had some clutch moments in 2021. He was vital in the win against Kansas City early in the season, and in the Cleveland victory just two weeks later. 15 receptions, 287 yards, four touchdowns. That’s the total from just two big games within three weeks from each other. So, why is this a debate? The game between. One reception for eleven yards against the Las Vegas Raiders.
The discussion will continue far after the decision is made, but up until that point, it’s all speculation. Where do the Chargers stand with Williams? Where do fans stand with him? The bigger question is, can you bring yourself to pay close to $40 million to two wide receivers? This is what it comes down to. Do the Chargers want to spend all this money on a position that won’t be in any danger if Williams leaves, due to Allen still being around?
Do Williams’ Stats Show A Wide Receiver Worth Top Dollar?
1,100 yards is no joke, and it didn’t take Williams 17 games to get there. The problem is the consistency or lack thereof. Williams’ three-game stretch against Baltimore, New England, and Philadelphia, resulted in a total of six receptions, grabbing two catches in each game. Considering fans were upset when Allen only had four receptions in a single game, debating whether his $20M price tag was worth it, it’s probably safe to say fans will be in an uproar if Williams’ consistency issues aren’t fixed.
The issue of consistency will always be brought up on a season-by-season basis with Williams, but it really comes down to game by game as well. Does he have enough elite performances to warrant paying him $20 million? I would argue that no receiver in the league with consistency issues should have that argument go their way. An elite receiver is a player who offers you something week to week. Allen offers third and fourth down prowess that no other receiver in the league can match, and he does it every week. Williams offers a big game, then a disappearance for a couple of weeks before resurfacing. To me, that is not worth $15 million, let alone $17-20 million. Paying him top-tier money could be a decision that would haunt them for years to come.
Does The Tape Warrant A Big Contract?
In short? No. You can look to stats such as barely being in the top 90 of WRs to get open against man coverage, but on tape, it looks worse than that. Baltimore and New England really did a number on Williams when they went into man coverage.
Williams doesn’t offer a very versatile route tree and doesn’t have the speed to open things up on those limited routes. He relies heavily on zone coverages to get open and relies even more heavily on busted coverages for the long scores. While he does offer great ball skills and tracks the ball downfield extremely well, he doesn’t have the speed to leave defenders behind, resulting in an overreliance to catch the 50/50 balls.
You can’t pay a wide receiver who can’t separate the kind of money that he’s going to be offered from other teams this offseason. It just isn’t a smart investment, especially considering that style of play leads to, and has led to, injuries.
What Kind Of Money Will Williams Get?
The Chargers have always done one thing very well under General Manager Tom Telesco, and that’s manage their cap space. From Austin Ekeler to Joey Bosa, the team always brings a deal to the table that is both team and player-friendly.
You think back to Melvin Gordon, and the Chargers find themselves in a pretty similar situation right now with Williams. The Chargers opted to allow Gordon to walk, and he never got the money he was asking for. Do the Chargers allow Williams to walk? What kind of money will teams offer him?
Teams with young quarterbacks and questionable surrounding talent will be the first teams up to bat. Miami, New York, and Jacksonville come to mind. Ideally, the Chargers would be able to talk Williams down to a more friendly $14-16 million per year, and you’re probably looking at around three years so that the deal ends closer to when star quarterback Justin Herbert will be seeking his own massive deal.
Externally, from those previously mentioned teams, Williams’ camp will probably seek closer to that $20 million range that other top receivers in the league have been receiving, before walking it down depending on how those teams feel about it. In the end, it will probably settle in that $17-18 million range unless a team is truly desperate like the Giants were last year with Golladay.
Should The Chargers Bring Williams Back?
The big question. Should they? Well, the Chargers have a $20 million receiver already in the lineup, that should be enough right there, but they seemed certain that Williams could be the new first option on the Chargers when camp started this season.
If they are willing to shell out close to $40 million to their receiver room, it probably shouldn’t be to a receiver who disappears for three-week stretches or has a one reception game for eleven yards when it’s the receiver across from him drawing the double teams.
If the argument turns to elite receivers not needing to be consistent on a per-week basis, then you can point to the two years out of five that Williams has reached 1,000 yards. Do you pay someone top-tier money based on two solid seasons and an inconsistent total, or does that turn into a Kenny Golladay or Tyrell Williams type of mistake that New York and Las Vegas made?
Look, you can point to chemistry with Herbert, or you can point to the team needing to supply their quarterback with enough weapons to continue his upward trend, but the guy is an elite quarterback with an elite wide receiver in Allen. The Chargers will be just fine, and they have eleven picks to play with this offseason to find him a downfield threat (Jameson Williams anyone?). Not to say the production will be replicated, but it’s just smart football to save your money for the things your team actually struggles with, or do we want to see the defense keep Herbert out of the playoffs again?
It’s a resounding no, the Chargers shouldn’t play with fire here. Allow Williams to walk and spend the money elsewhere.