In three years with the Los Angeles Chargers, wide receiver Tyrell Williams has gone from an unknown player out of Western Oregon facing long odds to make it professionally to one of the better young receivers in the NFL.
The open signing period will kick off in just over a month and while many fans love to speculate about some of the big names their teams could reel in off the unrestricted free-agent list, many forget about the players that are restricted free agents.
Williams will be a restricted free agent, meaning that teams can make him an offer but the Chargers would have the right to match that offer, which teams are not able to do with unrestricted free agents.
A team needing a wide receiver would be wise to look into Williams and make him an offer as the Chargers may not be able to tie up any more money in the wide receiver position. Keenan Allen is the clear No. 1 receiver, Mike Williams was a first-round pick last year and Travis Benjamin would carry a $7 million cap hit if he were to be released.
That might tie the Chargers’ hands if a team made a good offer. An offer that was front-loaded would be tough to match.
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Williams has 112 receptions and 11 touchdown catches over the last two seasons and a team out there could see plenty of value in his ability. With the Chargers needing to develop Mike Williams after the investment they made in him last year, it’s easy for Tyrell to get lost in the shuffle in Los Angeles.
The restricted free-agent process can be quite effective when a team takes advantage of another team which they know will have a hard time matching their offer. The New England Patriots did this when they signed Chris Hogan to an offer sheet following the 2015 season. The Pats then went after the same team this past offseason, signing Mike Gillislee to an offer sheet. The Buffalo Bills failed to match either of those offers and the Patriots have found spots to plug both players into. Hogan has enjoyed much more success in New England.
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Williams is coming off a season in which he made $615,000. Another team could offer him significantly more to come in and be the No. 2 wide receiver, something the Chargers aren’t going to be able to guarantee after drafting a wide receiver in the first round last year.
At least one team out there is likely considering this move. What will be the Chargers’ response?