Chargers WR Mike Williams ready to 'unleash' in 2022 after signing new contract

Last offseason, the Los Angeles Chargers' new staff repeatedly talked about how Mike Williams would be a focal point of the offense -- the Michael Thomas of Joe Lombardi's scheme, if you will. Sometimes offseason chatter like that can turn out hollow. Not in Williams' case.

The receiver went out had had the best season of his career, earning 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns on 76 catches (nearly doubling his previous career-high in receptions). In his first season in the scheme, Williams proved he could be more than just an occasional deep threat.

"That was what [head] coach [Brandon] Staley and the group wanted me to do: showcase everything that I can do in my game -- the short routes -- getting the ball in my hands in space and making plays happen with my legs," Williams said Wednesday, via the team's official transcript. "That's kind of what the group wanted me to do. They wanted me to be a playmaker, and I was able to showcase that."

This week, the Chargers ensured Williams would be around for more than just 2022. In the process, they paid the wideout like one of the top pass catchers in the NFL on a three-year, $60 million deal. The $20 million per year (just a shade under Keenan Allen's $20.025 million) placed Williams as the fifth-highest paid wideout in the NFL.

The minutia of Williams' contract is even stronger for the wideout. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero added that the pact includes a $21 million signing bonus and $40 million guaranteed over the first two years. And a $3 million roster bonus on the third day of the new league year triggers the final season -- meaning the club can't drag their feet if they intend to move on after just two seasons. Perhaps even better, Williams will be set to hit the free-agent market at the end of the deal at the age of 30.

Williams proved he could be a difference-maker in L.A. and is the perfect complement to Justin Herbert's big arm.

Williams had six games with 80-plus receiving yards and one-plus receiving TDs in 2021 -- tying him with the second-most in such games with Davante Adams (behind only Cooper Kupp, 11). Williams had four TD catches of 40-plus yards in 2021 (tied second-most in NFL with Tyler Lockett and Deebo Samuel behind only Ja'Marr Chase, six).

Despite enjoying a career year that earned him a fat new contract, Williams believes he still has room to grow.

"Every offseason, I try to get better at every part of my game; blocking, routes, catching the ball, get better at everything," he said. "… I can be a little bit better, though -- a lot better. Let's unleash it next year. Let's get it."

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