It turns out Mike Williams did not get to free agency. It was thought that the Los Angeles Chargers wideout could be franchise tagged ahead of the deadline, but the two sides agreed to a three-year, $60 million contract. According to CBS Sports NFL insider Josina Anderson, the contract contains $40 million fully guaranteed and $28 million included in the first year of the deal.
This contract carries an AAV of $20 million -- which is tied for fifth among all receivers as of March 15, according to Over The Cap. It's $25,000 behind his teammate Keenan Allen, and tied with Amari Cooper of the Cleveland Browns.
Williams put together a career campaign in 2021, catching 76 passes for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns. He's played second fiddle to Allen, but has the potential to be a No. 1. Williams led the Chargers in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns this past season, but why hit the open market if you have a quarterback like Justin Herbert?
Below, you can revisit our projected landing spots for the Clemson product as well as contract predictions.
Salary cap figures come from Over the Cap
Potential landing spots
- Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars are set to enter free agency with the second-most cap space in the NFL, could be looking for a top wide receiver and have a former Clemson star playing quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. Seems like this could be an ideal situation for Williams.
- Las Vegas Raiders: The Raiders should be major players in the wide receiver market this offseason. This is a clear Davante Adams landing spot as well, but if he's franchise-tagged or if the Green Bay Packers find a way to extend him, Vegas will turn its attention elsewhere.
- Indianapolis Colts: The Colts have a quarterback question, which makes their destination not as appealing, but they have the cap space and the need for a big wide receiver. T.Y. Hilton is again a free agent and so is Zach Pascal. Michael Pittman looks like a budding star on the outside, but adding someone like Williams would take this offense to another level. It's definitely something the Colts should consider if they decide to run it back with Carson Wentz.
- Los Angeles Chargers: Williams is one of the Chargers' most important free agents, and they possess the cap space needed to keep him happy. Even with Keenan Allen opposite of him, Williams ranked 17th in targets this past season (129) and he knows that he has a good quarterback in Justin Herbert. If you can get a nice boost in pay, why leave?
- Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons need help at wide receiver with Calvin Ridley's future in jeopardy and Russell Gage testing the free agency waters. Atlanta is currently in the red when it comes to projected cap space, but Arthur Smith needs to sign a true No. 1 wide receiver to boost his offensive attack. You're not going to get much out of Matt Ryan if it's him and Kyle Pitts vs. the world.
According to Spotrac's market value tool, Williams was projected to sign a four-year, $66,959,920 deal. That carries an AAV of $16.7 million, which would rank ninth among all receivers. Spotrac created this projection by looking at the free-agent deals Amari Cooper, Tyler Lockett, Kenny Golladay and Corey Davis signed while at a similar age.
PFF aimed a little higher for Williams' projected contract, predicting a four-year, $68 million deal.
Free agent timeline
Mike Williams agrees to three-year, $60 million contract to remain with Chargers
March 8: "The Los Angeles Chargers are retaining one of Justin Herbert's top targets, with wide receiver Mike Williams agreeing to a three-year, $60 million deal to remain in the fold.
According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Josina Anderson, the contract contains $40 million fully guaranteed and $28 million in the first year of the deal. The move allows the Chargers to avoid using the franchise tag on Williams, which would have paid him $18.8 million for the 2022 season.
Williams is coming off his best NFL season, having caught 76 passes for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021."
Read more on the deal from CBS Sports' Jared Dubin, here.
Justin Herbert indicates he wants Mike Williams back on Chargers
Feb 2: "Mike and I have a great relationship and I've been talking to him all year about it. He's one of those guys that is so athletic and has done such a great job all year. He works so hard, knows what he's doing out there and makes plays.
"For him to be a part of our offense, he makes us so much better. Fingers crossed, whatever happens, happens. It's out of my control, but I'm a big Mike Williams fan."
Read more from Herbert's Q&A with CBS Sports' Jeff Kerr, here.
2022 NFL free agency WR market: Projecting contracts, logical landing spots for Davante Adams, other veterans
"The Chargers have the second-highest amount of cap space heading into free agency, so they could very well retain Williams. After all, he has developed a strong rapport with Justin Herbert, evident by him putting together a career year with 76 receptions for 1,146 receiving yards in 2021. Williams is a receiver who can help an offense stretch the field, and he has averaged 16.8 yards per reception over his last three seasons. His 6-foot-4, 218-pound frame also makes him a strong presence in the red zone. Williams is likely best suited as a low-end No. 1 receiver or an elite No. 2 pass-catcher, similar to how he operated with Keenan Allen in Los Angeles' offense."
Read more from Tyler Sullivan's breakdown on the wide receivers in free agency, here.