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Chargers Release Star WR Mike Williams, Rockets to Top of FA Class



Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent WR Target Mike Williams
FILE - Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (81) before an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sept. 10, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. The Los Angeles Chargers released Williams on Wednesday, March 13, 2024, a move that will free up $20 million in salary cap space. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong, File)

The Los Angeles Chargers have released wide receiver Mike Williams, according to a report by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, immediately bringing the veteran deep threat toward the top of the available free agent class.

Williams, 29, has been with the Chargers since they made him the No. 7 overall pick out out of Clemson in the 2017 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-4, 218-pound receiver has been one of the top deep-ball threats in the NFL in his six pro seasons, but injuries have slowed his production in the last two years.

Williams got his start as a big-time deep threat. He led the NFL in yards per reception in 2019 at 20.4, and in 2019, his average depth of target was an absurd 17.8 yards. Williams had his most productive season back in 2021, when he caught 76 passes for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns.

In 2022, he missed four regular-season games with ankle injuries and then suffered a small fracture in his back, causing him to miss the Chargers’ playoff game. Last year, Williams tore his ACL in Week 3, ending his season.

The Chargers released Williams as part of a salary purge the team needed to get complaint before the 4 p.m. Wednesday deadline for the start of the new league year.

The Steelers have released veteran slot receiver Allen Robinson II and traded star outside receiver Diontae Johnson this month, leaving the team very needy at the wide receiver position, but they apparently are not in the running to land the top free agent available.

Williams, along with Pickens would give the Steelers a pair of big-bodied deep threats, a perfect set-up for Arthur Smith’s play-action scheme and Russell Wilson’s propensity for throwing rainbow deep balls.