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Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers avoid franchise tag with 3-year, $60M deal

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams is defended by the Denver Broncos' Pat Surtain II (2) and  Micah Kiser (43).
Tyler Dragon

The Los Angeles Chargers weren’t going to let Mike Williams leave.

So they gave him 60 million reasons to stay.

The Chargers and Williams agreed to a three-year, $60 million contract extension, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Williams' new deal includes $40 million in guaranteed money.

"I just signed my contract. Everything is official. Can't wait to get back to work. Bolt up," Williams said in a video shared to the Chargers' Instagram account.

INSIDER TAKE:Chargers need to improve defense to support NFL record-breaking QB Justin Herbert

Had the Chargers been unsuccessful securing Williams, the team was prepared to use a franchise tag on the 6-foot-4 wideout to avoid losing him in free agency.

“I feel like I have built some lifelong friendships here with the guys in this organization, on and off of the field,” Williams said in January. “I like the organization, I like the people that I come to work with every day."

After the deal was official Tuesday, Williams posted a photo on Instagram showing him signing the contract and running out of the Chargers' tunnel on a game day with the caption, "Everything I Dreamed Of."

Williams showed his worth in 2021 playing under the fifth-year option available for first-round draft picks. He was selected No. 7 overall in 2017. Last season, Williams had career highs in receptions (76) and receiving yards (1,146). He also totaled nine touchdowns for the Chargers’ third-ranked offense.

The Clemson product built a solid rapport with Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert. Williams eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards in two of the last three seasons. He's currently the team’s best deep threat and has shown big-play ability throughout his career. He leads the league with seven career go-ahead touchdowns in the fourth quarter or overtime. Five of those go-ahead scores came in 2021, which set a single-season NFL record.

Williams has amassed 227 catches, 3,662 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns in 72 career games with the Bolts. His 16.1 career receiving yards average is the second best in the NFL since 2017. 

The Chargers entered the offseason with over $56 million in salary-cap space. Now that the team has accomplished one of its top priorities in retaining Williams, expect it to pivot to needs in free agency — especially on the defensive side of the field. 

Follow USA TODAY Sports+ NFL Insider Tyler Dragon on Twitter @TheTylerDragon.