LA Chargers News

LA Chargers: Four questions about the 2021 WR group

COSTA MESA, CA - JUNE 16: Mike Williams #81 of the Los Angeles Chargers during mandatory minicamp at the Hoag Performance Center on June 16, 2021 in Costa Mesa, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
COSTA MESA, CA - JUNE 16: Mike Williams #81 of the Los Angeles Chargers during mandatory minicamp at the Hoag Performance Center on June 16, 2021 in Costa Mesa, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
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(Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) – LA Chargers
(Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) – LA Chargers

The main duo of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams will be back in 2021 for the LA Chargers. Allen is coming into the first year of a four year extension he signed last offseason while Williams will enter a pivotal contract year.

Along with those two main cogs, Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson will be back in the fold after quasi-breakout years in 2020. Josh Palmer is a lock to make the roster as well following his selection on Day 2 of the 2021 draft.

After those five guys, it’s a lot less certain. The Chargers are probably going to carry six receivers again, but it could be a brutal competition for that last spot. K.J. Hill and Joe Reed were both drafted just last year and still face a strong test to make the 53 man roster. Austin Proehl, Jason Moore, and The Spring League’s Michael Bandy may also be looking to push for that sixth spot.

1. What does Mike Williams do in a contract year for the LA Chargers?

Picking up Mike Williams’ fifth-year option was an easy decision to make. Some Chargers fans may still be irked at the $15 million price tag, but it didn’t prevent the team from making any of the key moves they wanted to make in the offseason. They also had no way of truly replacing his production in the interim.

Williams likely slots in as the X-receiver in Joe Lombardi’s new offense. Most have already pointed out that Michael Thomas played that role in New Orleans. Along with a comparison between Alvin Kamara and Austin Ekeler, Lombardi has practically said the same thing. Drew Brees even got in on the Mike Williams hype himself:

Had @drewbrees out @Chargers minicamp today. Asked about Coach Lombardi’s Mike Williams-Michael Thomas comparison pic.twitter.com/UNaJFdlNnT

— mattmoneysmith (@mattmoneysmith) June 16, 2021

While I do think Williams will be better in an offense that’s more suited to his strengths, the Thomas comparison is a bit much for me. Sure, the size and strength comparisons are apt, but Thomas is a top five route runner in the league. Separation and specifically route running are parts of Williams’ game that he wants to refine, but he hasn’t gotten there yet if we’re being honest.

If the front office was completely comfortable with the concept of extending Williams, I’m not sure they would’ve been involved in the Julio Jones rumors or taken a day two receiver.

Williams has shown that he’s a very capable deep ball receiver. You don’t need to look further than the 2019 season for proof of that. For the Chargers to truly feel good about committing to him long term though, he does need to become more of a threat in the intermediate passing game.

Williams’ development in 2021 is probably the most important of any Charger relative to potential future with the team.

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