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Mike Williams credits Chargers’ coaching staff for throwing new contract his way

Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (81) reaches for a pass
Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (81) pulled in a lot of passes last season, and set many career highs. That earned him a second contract with the Chargers.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
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Brandon Staley’s impact was obvious during his first season as an NFL head coach, from his fourth-down decisions to his viral news conference clips and decidedly untraditional candor.

His influence also was profound when it comes to Mike Williams and the contract extension the Chargers wide receiver signed this week.

Under Staley and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, Williams’ role expanded exponentially in 2021, leading to a deal that guarantees him $40 million and is worth up to $60 million over the next three seasons.

“I’m very grateful for that,” Williams said Wednesday during a media conference. “I tell them that all the time. I always tell them, ‘Thank you. I appreciate you’ because, I mean, without them, I probably wouldn’t be in this situation.”

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Williams finished last season with 76 receptions for 1,146 yards — both career highs — and nine touchdowns. He was targeted 129 times, 39 more than his previous single-season best.

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

March 8, 2022

After being more of a red-zone and deep-ball specialist in his first three seasons in the league, Williams was dispatched all over the field and in a variety of routes by Lombardi.

His emergence included setting an NFL season record with five go-ahead touchdowns in the fourth quarter or overtime.

“When the big light’s on, I’m ready to make plays,” Williams said. “When everybody’s watching, when the team needs a play, I feel like I’m capable of making that play. I just trust in my ability.”

With Russell Wilson headed to the Broncos, the AFC West is a Mt. Rushmore of quarterbacks: Wilson, Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes and Derek Carr.

March 8, 2022

Williams, 27, is now one of six NFL receivers with a contract worth as much as $20 million per season. The group includes one of his teammates, Keenan Allen, who signed a four-year deal worth up to $80.1 million in September 2020.

A pending free agent, Williams said his motivation from the start of this offseason was to remain with the Chargers, citing, among other things, the presence of quarterback Justin Herbert, who made his first Pro Bowl in his second season.

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“That was a big part of it, too, just to be with a quarterback who’s a franchise quarterback and able to do the things he’s able to do to get me the ball,” Williams said. “That was huge.”

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