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Did the Chargers make a mistake by letting Tyrell Williams walk?

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 07: Wide receiver Tyrell Williams #16 of the Oakland Raiders is tackled by cornerback Casey Hayward #26 of the Los Angeles Chargers during the first quarter at RingCentral Coliseum on November 07, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 07: Wide receiver Tyrell Williams #16 of the Oakland Raiders is tackled by cornerback Casey Hayward #26 of the Los Angeles Chargers during the first quarter at RingCentral Coliseum on November 07, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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In the 2019 offseason, the Los Angeles Chargers let one of their top three receivers walk without a clear plan to replace him. Was that a mistake or did Tom Telesco make the right move to move on from Tyrell Williams?

In 2016, Tyrell Williams capitalized on an opportunity given to him by a Keenan Allen injury and joined the ranks of Chargers receivers to achieve a 1,000-yard season. In the following two years, Williams could not replicate his 2016 performance, but he became an effective second option at receiver. He recorded 728 yards in 2017 and 653 yards in 2018.

Despite this production, Tom Telesco drafted Mike Williams with the seventh overall pick in 2017. This pick now appears to have been made with Williams’ impending free agency in mind – Mike Williams was seen as a future improvement at the second wide receiver position.

Then, as expected, Telesco allowed Tyrell Williams to walk in the 2019 offseason. Williams went on to sign a 4-year contract with the Oakland Raiders.

The Chargers’ management seemed content to replace the speedy Tyrell Williams with another burner further down the depth chart, Travis Benjamin. Clearly, going into the season with only Benjamin having experience beyond Allen and Mike Williams was a mistake.

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Incredibly, the Chargers third-best receiver only played in four games; Dontrelle Inman was the third-most productive Chargers wide receiver with just 132 yards. Next on the list would be Andre Patton with a measly 56 yards.

Clearly, the Chargers needed an upgrade at the third wide receiver position in 2019. But should that third receiver have been Tyrell Williams?

Even with his injury troubles, Williams produced far more than any Chargers’ wide receiver not named Keenan Allen or Mike Williams. Tyrell Williams reached 651 yards despite only completing 13 games.

Despite the production Tyrell Williams would have delivered, the Chargers made a good decision to move on.

The reason is simple – contract value. In free agency, Tyrell Williams scored a 4-year, $44.3 million contract. In average annual value, that places Williams right between Allen and Larry Fitzgerald.

Yes, you read that correctly. Tyrell Williams is making just $125,000 less per season than Allen. That is also more than the somewhat recently re-signed Casey Hayward.

Although Allen is in the last year of his contract and is in need of a raise, it is clear that the Raiders overpaid for a receiver that only had one year of 1,000-yard production. While Williams would have likely significantly improved the offense, the Chargers are now free to find a better third receiver in free agency or the draft.

Furthermore, an $11.1 million contract could entice plenty of high-level free agents at other positions to join the Chargers. The Chargers also have many of their own free agents to sign this year and next who might be more deserving of such a contract.

While Chargers management made an error by allowing Benjamin to be the third wide receiver in 2019, they made the right move by letting Williams walk. Williams worked hard to improve himself with the Chargers and produce for the team, and he did well to cash in. Thankfully, it was the Raiders that forked over that cash.

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