Mar. Abr 23rd, 2024

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Supplying quarterback Aaron Rodgers with a new pass-catcher, the New York Jets signed former Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams on Tuesday.

Williams, 29, inked a one-year contract that has a maximum value of $15 million, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

«I just felt like it was a great fit for me. Aaron, I want to be able to play with him, pick his brain, learn from him,» he said Wednesday, explaining why he wanted to play for the Jets. «Playing alongside Garrett [Wilson], he kind of reminds me of Keenan [Allen] a little bit. Similar style play, great route runners, and I feel like we can complement each other in that area. The running game is pretty good. Defense is elite, so I just feel like we got a pretty good opportunity ahead of us.»

The Jets went into free agency looking to upgrade at the position opposite Garrett Wilson, a 1,000-yard receiver in each of his first two seasons. Since 2018, Williams leads the NFL with 15.8 yards per reception among players with at least 200 catches, but he arrives with some durability questions.

Williams tore an ACL in Week 3 last season, causing him to miss the remainder of the year. In 2022, he missed four games plus the Chargers’ playoff loss. But from 2018 to 2021, he missed only three games. The Jets are taking on some risk, but they feel Williams’ size (6-foot-4) and field-stretching ability will add a different dimension to the offense.

Williams, who said Wednesday he’s 4½ months removed from the actual surgery, said he’s «on schedule» and expects to be ready for the start of the season. He was noncommittal on whether he’d be ready for training camp in late July.

The Chargers cut Williams after seven seasons because his cap charge was an inflated $32.5 million. He was due to make a non-guaranteed $17 million in base salary in the final year of a three-year, $60 million deal.

Williams met with Jets officials Monday night, took a physical and toured the facility on Tuesday. After signing, he capped the busy day at Barclays Center, where he watched the Brooklyn Nets from a courtside seat. The Jets didn’t let him out of town without a deal.

Williams, drafted seventh overall in 2017, was scheduled to take free agent visits to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Carolina Panthers. The Chargers also showed interest in bringing him back.

His best year was 2021, when he set career highs for receptions (76) and receiving yards (1,146). He also scored nine touchdowns, clicking with quarterback Justin Herbert after an up-and-down first year together in 2020.

In Williams, the Jets see someone who can be a factor in the red zone and win contested balls. In 2022, he recorded a 57% catch rate on contested passes, 11th best among wide receivers, according to Pro Football Focus.

Rodgers, also coming off a major injury, now has a receiving corps that features Wilson and Williams on the outside, with Xavier Gipson in the slot. Wilson and Williams are versatile players and can also play inside.

Allen Lazard has an uncertain role. After signing a four-year, $44 million contract, he made only 23 catches and was benched during a disappointing debut season in New York. Lazard, who played with Rodgers in Green Bay, probably will return because his $10 million salary is fully guaranteed.

Williams has never made the Pro Bowl. In seven seasons, he has 309 catches for 4,806 yards and 31 touchdowns.

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