Why Mike Williams leaves the Chargers as such a beloved fan favorite

Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs / David Eulitt/GettyImages

Chargers fans got the news we had all been expecting since the end of last season. Wide receiver Mike Williams was released at the start of free agency so the Chargers could become cap-compliant.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport did say that there is a possibility that the Chargers re-sign him on a cheaper contract. However, that doesn't seem to be the Chargers' plans (let alone plausible), as their official social media accounts have posted messages of gratitude to "Mike Dub", such as the following one on X:

Regardless of the injuries that kept him out for much of the past two seasons – and the back injury before the 2023 playoffs thanks to Brandon Staley – Williams earned the "Bolt Fam's" respect. Selected in 2017 with the 7th overall pick, he played in the inaugural season in LA. Despite a very slow start to his pro career, Philip Rivers trusted him, eventually becoming one of his–and Justin Herbert's–favorite weapons.

Here are the three main reasons why Chargers fans will miss Mike Williams:

Mike Williams appeared in crucial moments for the Chargers

For some reason, Williams played his best football at Arrowhead (hopefully that's not a sign of where he'll play in 2024), one of the toughest games every year.

Fans will always remember the 2018 game where he secured the victory in a memorable two-point conversion: he caught a pass from Rivers alone in the last four seconds of the game and then hurried to celebrate with his teammates. Then, early in the 2021 season, he had 122 yards and caught 2 TDs to catapult the Chargers to another close victory at Kansas City.

Another of Williams' memorable games was on Sunday Night Football against Pittsburgh in 2021. As is often the case in Bolts games, the Steelers came from a 17-point deficit and took a 3-point lead in the fourth quarter.

With just over two minutes left, he caught a pass from Justin Herbert after a Steelers defensive back got confused in coverage. He then outran another Steelers DB for a 53-yard TD that sealed the Chargers victory.

Mike Williams went from "zero to hero" despite being selected 7th overall

Despite being selected at the top of the 2017 NFL Draft, and coming off of winning the NCAA national championship at Clemson with QB Deshaun Watson, Williams had an atrocious 2017 season. Not only was he injured during training camp and parts of the regular season, but he only caught 11 receptions for 95 yards in ten games played! At that time, many wondered if he was a "bust".

However, the narrative began to change in 2018. Staying healthy throughout the season, Mike Williams became one of then Chargers QB Rivers' favorite receivers. Though the Chiefs game was the season's climax, Williams had a solid year with over 600 receiving yards and 10 TDs. He also became one of Justin Herbert's favorite weapons. He had a breakout 2021 season, having over 1,100 receiving yards and 9 TDs.

Mike Williams was the contested and spectacular catches king

Herbert had "blind faith" in Williams. He caught almost all of his contested catches, thanks to his height and physical strength. Likewise, Mike makes the receptions near the sidelines look easy, like the one against the Dolphins in 2022.

Another of his iconic receptions happened just a week later against the Tennessee Titans, when he spectacularly caught the ball to set a winning field goal attempt.

Despite his multiple injuries, the Los Angeles Chargers will miss Mike's skillset. There are few receivers with such an ability to win "50/50" catches.

Though always WR2 behind future hall of famer Keenan Allen, Williams always stood out in times of need. The franchise has now to restock the WR room, either in free agency or the NFL draft, where Malik Nabers would be the best option available with the 5th overall pick. Finally, I wholeheartedly wish Mike the best on his next team, and I hope he stays on the field as much as possible to reach his peak performance.