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    Chargers release WR Mike Williams after 7 seasons
    • March 13, 2024

    The Chargers solved their salary-cap issues by releasing veteran wide receiver Mike Williams, they announced Wednesday, a difficult but necessary move that enabled the team to beat the NFL-mandated deadline to get under the record-setting cap of $255.4 million for next season.

    Williams, fellow wide receiver Keenan Allen and edge rushers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack each have cap hits of $32 million or more for next season. By releasing Williams, it enabled the Chargers to become cap compliant by the league’s 1 p.m. (PDT) deadline Wednesday,

    The NFL’s 2024 season officially began Wednesday afternoon.

    The move trims $20 million from the Chargers’ salary cap for the upcoming season and comes after they released linebacker Eric Kendricks on March 5, gaining an additional $6.5 million in cap relief. Kendricks, a former UCLA standout, was set to sign with the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers.

    In addition, Mack agreed to restructure his contract in order to remain with the Chargers for next season, according to a report from ESPN. Mack, 33, set a career high with 17 sacks this past season and topped 100 for his career. Allen and Bosa also will remain with the Chargers for the 2024 season.

    The Chargers could re-sign Williams in the days to come, but it was reported by the NFL Network that he would prefer to test free agency instead. Williams spent the past seven seasons with the Chargers, who drafted him in the first round (seventh overall) in 2017 after a stellar career at Clemson.

    Williams, 29, played only three games this past season, suffering a torn ACL during a victory in Week 3 over the Minnesota Vikings. He was expected to be sound enough to play again by the start of the 2024 season, but that was an initial estimate and there had been no recent updates on his condition.

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    He caught 309 passes for 4,806 yards and 31 touchdowns in 88 games over seven seasons with the Chargers, including 19 receptions for 249 yards and one touchdown in three games in the 2023 season. He also was limited to 13 games in the 2022 season because of injuries.

    The NFL’s free-agent negotiating window opened Monday, with contracts becoming official at 1 p.m. Wednesday. The Chargers were set to sign former Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards and ex-Seattle Seahawks tight end Will Dissly and also to re-sign safety Alohi Gilman.

    If the Chargers fail to re-sign Williams, they are likely to seek a replacement in the NFL draft April 25-26-27 in Detroit. The Chargers have the fifth overall pick and several mock drafts have them selecting LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers if they make the pick rather than trading down.

    It’s no secret that new coach Jim Harbaugh would like to bolster the Chargers’ lackluster running game, something that was evident by agreements Monday with free agents Edwards and Dissly and the departure of running back Austin Ekeler, who was set to sign with the Washington Commanders.

    By trading down next month, the Chargers could possibly select Georgia tight end Brock Bowers or perhaps take one of a number of different standout offensive linemen. Bowers would give quarterback Justin Herbert a standout playmaker to go with Dissly, a top-notch blocker in the running game.

    Last season, the Chargers averaged only 3.8 yards per rushing attempt, 27th in the NFL. Their inability to pair an effective ground attack with the passing of Herbert was a significant reason why they finished the season 5-12 and prompted the firing of Tom Telesco as GM and Brandon Staley as coach.

    “Can you imagine Justin Herbert with a great running game?” new Chargers offensive coordinator Greg Roman asked last month of a group of reporters,, who quickly agreed that they could not because they hadn’t seen it happen under the direction of Telesco and Staley.

    More to come on this story.

    ​ Orange County Register