Chargers release Mike Williams to save $20M, get under NFL's salary cap

Chargers release Mike Williams to save $20M, get under NFL's salary cap

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The Los Angeles Chargers announced Wednesday they released veteran wide receiver Mike Williams to get below the salary cap for the 2024 season. 

Williams’ release saves the Chargers $20 million in salary cap room, but Williams will still cost the franchise $12.46 million in dead cap space. 

The move was a necessity for the Chargers because they had to get under the $255.4 million salary cap by 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, and Williams became a free agent. 

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Mike Williams of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates a catch against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half in an AFC wild-card playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium Jan. 6, 2019, in Baltimore. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Los Angeles, despite making headlines earlier this offseason by hiring Jim Harbaugh to become their new head coach, knew they had to make tough roster decisions because they were well over the salary cap. 

They released veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks, who signed with the Dallas Cowboys Wednesday, and they let Austin Ekeler go to the Washington Commanders in free agency. 

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The Chargers were, however, able to renegotiate Khalil Mack’s contract for the 2024 season to create more cap room and keep him with the team. They also signed running back Gus Edwards, tight end Will Dissly and safety Alohi Gilman. 

Williams was selected seventh overall by the Chargers in the 2017 NFL Draft and formed a top receiving tandem for years with Keenan Allen. Known for his contested catch ability, Williams had a breakout year in 2019, totaling 1,001 yards on just 49 receptions with two touchdowns. His 20.4 yards per catch led the NFL. 

Mike Williams tackled

Mike Williams of the Los Angeles Chargers catches the ball and is tackled by Rashad Fenton of the Kansas City Chiefs during the third quarter at Arrowhead Stadium Sept. 15, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

After putting up his best season in 2021 with 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns on 76 catches — all career highs — the Chargers rewarded him with a three-year deal worth $60 million before the start of the 2022 season. 

But Williams’ production slid due to injuries. He fractured his back during the team’s regular-season finale in 2022, and he missed the team’s disappointing wild-card loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He only played 13 games that season before the injury.

In 2023, he got off to a hot start with 249 yards on 19 receptions with a touchdown in the first three weeks. But he tore his ACL, ending his season prematurely and creating questions about his future with the team heading into the offseason. 

Mike Williams runs on field

Mike Williams of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates a touchdown during the first quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Sept. 23, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Williams enters free agency for the first time in his career. He caught 309 passes for 4,806 yards and 31 touchdowns in 88 regular-season games with the Chargers in seven seasons. 

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