Chargers sign Mike Williams to three-year contract with $40 million guaranteed

Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams celebrates a touchdown catch.
Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

General manager Tom Telesco said last week that his preference was to sign Mike Williams to a contract extension.

That possibility became reality Tuesday when the Chargers announced they had signed the wide receiver to a new deal.

The three-year package guarantees Williams $40 million and is worth up to $60 million, according to league sources who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Williams, 27, was a pending unrestricted free agent and eligible to be assigned a franchise tag. The deadline for tagging players was 1 p.m. Tuesday.


The extension means the Chargers retain one of quarterback Justin Herbert’s top weapons as they attempt to build off a season in which they were eliminated from playoff contention on the last play of overtime in their Week 18 finale.

Williams finished 2021 with 76 receptions for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns. His total of 129 targets was 39 more than his previous single-season best.

Chargers coach Brandon Staley wants his team to be deeper on both sides of the ball so injuries don’t hold them back as they did last season, but corner and defensive line seem priorities.

Immediately after the season, Williams said he hoped to remain with the Chargers, who drafted him No. 7 overall in 2017.

“I like the organization,” Williams said. “I like the people I come to work with every day. So, hopefully, things work out on both ends.”

The franchise tag would have guaranteed Williams a 2022 salary of $18.4 million. Before agreeing to his new contract, Williams’ market value was estimated to be $17.9 million annually in Spotrac’s latest projections.

Through his first four seasons in the NFL, Williams’ big-play ability downfield was emphasized as the 6-foot-4, 218-pounder proved to be among the league’s best at going over defensive backs to win 50/50 battles.

But, under first-year coach Brandon Staley and new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, Williams’ role expanded in 2021 and he fully seized the opportunity.

Many thought Aaron Rodgers might head to Denver, but he agrees to stay with the Packers, and Broncos trade for Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

He set personal bests in catches and receiving yards while displaying the ability to run an array of routes and make plays at every level of the defense.

“I think he was just able to showcase himself in a bigger way,” Staley said after the season. “He scored the ball, which I think is a strength of his. Some receivers don’t do that. They don’t score the ball ….

“I think what he showed was that he’s a tough cover in a lot of different places. I also think he showed the durability that’s also important. I feel like being available for Justin and being able to grow with Justin … that chemistry really was on display.”

Entering Tuesday, the Chargers had the second-most salary cap space — $56 million, according to — in the NFL.

Chargers GM Tom Telesco refused to talk contracts and free agency at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis but said the roster will be changing.

Speaking at the league’s scouting combine last week, Telesco explained that the financial freedom would allow the team to be aggressive in retooling its roster. The Williams extension is the first step in that process.

The Chargers also need to bolster their defense and make decisions on a few other pending internal free agents, including edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu, defensive lineman Justin Jones and linebacker Kyzir White.

The NFL’s free-agency negotiating period opens Monday and players can sign contracts starting March 16.

This offseason also could include an extension for safety Derwin James Jr., who just made his second Pro Bowl and is one of the key pieces — and the signal caller — in Staley’s defensive scheme.

The Chargers are expected to cut veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga, which would open more salary cap space.