The Chiefs have rewarded Damien Williams for his stellar play since he was inserted into the starting lineup in the aftermath of Kareem Hunt's release. According to Yahoo Sports' Terez A. Paylor, the Chiefs gave Williams a two-year extension on Thursday night. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the extension is worth up to $8.1 million.
Williams, who spent the beginning portion of his career with the Dolphins, has taken over as the Chiefs' primary running back in recent weeks, serving as a reliable runner and pass catcher for Patrick Mahomes. When the team cut Hunt almost immediately after most assumed Spencer Ware would become the Chiefs' new RB1. Sure enough, Ware started the first two games after Hunt's release. But injuries forced Ware to miss the past two games, which allowed Williams to seize the starting job.
In Week 13-14, Williams totaled 19 touches for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Over the past two weeks, Williams' involvement and production has taken off. He's totaled 36 touches, 263 yards, and three touchdowns since being handed the starting job. He's eclipsed the 100-yard mark (from scrimmage) in back-to-back games, proving that he's more than capable of operating as both a runner and a pass catcher in Andy Reid's offense. Twenty-two of his 61 touches this season have come on receptions. Before Hunt's season ended, he caught 26 passes for 378 yards and seven touchdowns. Williams hasn't been as dynamic of a receiver as Hunt, who averaged 14.5 yards per catch, but he has actually been a more efficient ball handler, averaging 5.9 yards per touch (small sample size alert!) compared to Hunt's 5.8.
The extension indicates the Chiefs won't be in the market for an expensive free agent running back in the offseason like, say, Le'Veon Bell. It's also a reminder that teams can find capable running backs almost anywhere and that Reid's system remains incredibly player friendly. Williams went undrafted out of Oklahoma. He didn't find much success in Miami, averaging just over 300 total yards per season with the Dolphins from 2014-17. Suddenly, he's one of the Chiefs' most important offensive players and the team has already seen enough to commit to him beyond this season.
On Sunday, Williams should be able to celebrate his extension against a Raiders defense that ranks 30th in DVOA as the Chiefs look to lock up the top seed in the AFC.