Mike Williams' Chargers career may actually continue despite being released

Pittsburgh Steelers v Los Angeles Chargers
Pittsburgh Steelers v Los Angeles Chargers / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

The LA Chargers had to become cap compliant by the start of the league year on Wednesday afternoon. With the Bolts being the last remaining team over the salary cap on Wednesday morning, some tough decisions were in store for new general manager Joe Hortiz.

Hortiz ultimately made the tough, but most likely, decision as the Chargers released Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Williams. The $20 million in cap space created, coupled with a surprise contract restructure for Khalil Mack, made the Chargers cap-compliant and gave the team enough space to sign its incoming free agents.

This is the end of an era for Williams in Los Angeles and is a sad moment as the former Clemson wide out has become a huge fan favorite in Los Angeles. With Williams being released, many Chargers fans are reminiscing on his best moments in the powder blue, which is highlighted by his game-winning two-point conversion catch against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018.

These trips down memory lane might be a bit premature, however. Although Williams has been released, there is some hope on the Chargers' side of things that he could return in free agency, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

"They would like to bring him back, that is my understanding and they want to make sure the price is right, so they would like to bring him back. But he's going to go out, he's going to see what's out there, he's going to test the market, kind of do what free agents do, and then potentially we'll see what the Chargers' price ends us being. "

Chargers' pipe dream of bringing Mike Williams back won't ever happen

As great as it would be to see Williams return to the Chargers and finish what he started in LA, this is merely a pipe dream for the Chargers. The Chargers likely know this as well, as there is a very slim chance that they will be able to bring him back.

Williams' value may not be exponentially high because of his age and the fact that he is coming off a torn ACL but it is still higher than what the Chargers can reasonably offer. There are several teams in the league that still have plenty of cap space and can offer Williams a sizeable one-year contract to see what he can do.

Even though the Chargers are now cap-compliant, they are still limited in what they spend. Even if the team trades Joey Bosa and extends Keenan Allen it is not going to be swimming in cap space. After paying the incoming draft class, the Chargers still won't have much to offer a free agent like Williams.

So while the Chargers might want to bring Williams back on a cheaper deal, fans certainly should not expect that to happen. The free-agent market is going to bear itself out and there will be at least one team willing to offer Williams far more than the Chargers can.

Williams returning would be nice, but he doesn't owe the Chargers anything. He has every right to chase the biggest payday.