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Where's Mike Williams? His Itinerary from Paris to Cali to North Jersey & the Jets

Downfield-Threat WR from Clemson and the Chargers Quickly Trades In His Powder Blue for Green & White


They say when you get a coveted free agent to come in for a visit, don't let him leave the building without a deal. That's what the Jets and Mike Williams did on Tuesday night as Williams, flying in from Paris and then cross-country from Southern California to North Jersey and making the Jets the first of three teams he was visiting, struck a deal with the Green & White and canceled the rest of his itinerary.

He's now preparing to team up with the Jets offense, led by Aaron Rodgers, the latest in a string of top quarterbacks he's combined with at Clemson and the L.A. Chargers. "It makes my job a lot easier," he said of playing with that level of QB. "It makes their job easier, too, having a guy like me out there to go out and compete with them."

Where has Williams been and where is he going? Here are five screenshots from his football life as he moves into the next phase of his pro career.

Leaving Home for Parts East
Williams and Los Angeles were no longer an item when the Chargers released him in a salary-cap move last week after seven seasons in powder blues.

But the parting, rather than being bitter, was more of the sweet sorrow kind. Fans chimed in from all around Chargers country with well-wish tweets such as "What a sad day ... we'll miss you, Mike Will," "Come back," "He was so clutch" and "Sad to see him go man damn."

And the Chargers sent Williams off a couple of tweets, one of them a one-minute video bearing the caption: "thx for all the memories, mike dub."

"They kind of got a clean slate, a whole new staff, GM an everything," Williams said of cutting ties with the 'Bolts. "It was kind of expected. I'm happy where I'm at now."

Scary Moment
Williams has bounced back from a few injuries. Most recently, he said he's on schedule 4½ months into his rehab for the season-ending ACL tear he sustained three games into last season. He had a one-word answer when asked if he'll be ready to go in the Jets' season opener — "Yeah" — and four words (one a contraction) on if he'll be ready for training camp — "We're going to see," which he punctuated with his trademark smile.

Williams had an earlier injury scare, which came on Clemson's opening day in 2015. He was leaping for a 4-yard Deshaun Watson pass over the middle in the back of the end zone against Wofford. The beaten defender tried to break up the pass with a shove, sending Williams flying into the single goalpost stanchion. The result was a "small" neck fracture that didn't require surgery and was determined not to be career-threatening, but nevertheless cost Williams the rest of that season and a lot of time wearing neck protection.

The remarkable outcome of the play was that Williams made the catch, tapped his right foot just inside the end line, then held onto the ball despite the collision. The back judge initially signaled he was out of bounds, but the ruling was reversed to a TD, which Williams didn't know until he was told later that he got the score that started the Tigers to their 49-10 win.

Williams, known not only for that smile but also his good humor, was back for spring practice in 2016. "On campus, everyone knows who you are now," he said. "There's no hiding. Everybody knows Mike Williams with the neck brace."

See photos of the Jets new receiver visiting the training facility for the first time.

Productive and Explosive
Williams has erupted for some huge receiving seasons at all levels of his career. His last two years at Lake Marion HS in Santee, SC, he had back-to-back seasons of 60-plus catches, 1,200-plus yards and 10-plus touchdowns. He did the same in his final season at Clemson in 2016 with 98 catches, 1,361 yards and 11 TDs, which helped propel Clemson to the national title and him into the upper echelon of Round 1 in the '17 draft.

As a Charger, Williams' best season was probably 2021 (76-1,146-9), although he had 10 TDs in '18, 63 catches in '22 and his first 1,000-yard season in '19.

But what jumps out on his pro résumé are his averages per catch. His 20.4 yards/catch (49 catches for 1,001 yards) in '19 is the best average by any NFL receiver (minimum 40 catches) since DeSean Jackson's 20.9 for Washington in 2014. One of Williams' big games in that monster '19 season: three catches for 111 yards in a 26-11 home win over Rodgers and the Packers.

Since 2018, Williams' downfield dimension is All-Pro-caliber. His 15.8 yards/catch is tops in the league in that six-season span (minimum 200 receptions) while his 11.4-yard ball-in-the-air average is No. 2 behind only Tampa Bay's Mike Evans.

They're No. 1
The Jets are cornering the market on former first-round picks. Williams was the Chargers' top pick, seventh overall, in the 2017 NFL Draft. Also among this month's free agency signings are LT Tyron Smith, the Cowboys' ninth overall choice in 2011, and DT Javon Kinlaw, the 49ers' 14th overall selection in 2020.

Then from other teams' first rounds in previous years, Rodgers was the 24th pick by the Packers in 2005, LB C.J. Mosley went No. 17 to the Ravens in '14, and DL Solomon Thomas, assuming he re-signs, was the third overall choice by the Niners in '17.

They all join the Jets' own first-rounders: DL Quinnen Williams (third overall pick in 2019), QB Zach Wilson (second in '21) G Alijah Vera-Tucker (14th in '21), CB Sauce Gardner (fourth in '22), WR Garrett Wilson (10th in '22), LB Jermaine Johnson (26th in '22) and edge Will McDonald (15th in '23).

Setting aside Wilson, who's been granted permission to seek a trade, that's 12 top picks over the previous 13 drafts on the roster. No guarantee of success, of course, but with the addition (barring a tradedown) of the 10th pick in next month's draft, it's not a bad start toward the Jets realizing their expectations in 2024.

A Sandwich for Jersey Mike
Williams got a lot of play for a gift that a fan, @NYJ_Matt, sent to him at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Tuesday. It was a breakfast sandwich, specifically Taylor ham, two eggs and cheese on a roll from a local eatery. The wideout told Jets reporters Wednesday morning that yes, he did receive his gift of food.

"I actually heard about it on Twitter a couple of days before he said he was going to send it to the facility," Williams said. "The sandwich was actually pretty good." Opportunity missed by reporters: Williams was not asked where he came down on the Great New Jersey Taylor Ham/Pork Roll debate.

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