11:30am: An MRI confirmed Williams has torn his ACL, per Rapoport. The news confirms he will be sidelined for the remainder of the campaign, though ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes Williams is expected to be available for the start of training camp in 2024. Given his importance to the Chargers’ offense, however, that point will come as little consolation as the team prepares to move forward without him.
8:47am: The Chargers picked up their first win of the season on Sunday, but their offense suffered a major blow in the process. Wideout Mike Williams left the contest with a knee injury, and it may cost him the remainder of the campaign.
An MRI is scheduled for Monday, but for now the team fears Williams’ knee injury could be season-ending, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (video link). The 28-year-old went down in the third quarter of Los Angeles’ win over Minnesota, and he needed to be carted off the field. That led to concerns a lengthy absence could ensue, and that would certainly be the case if testing were to confirm the worst-case scenario.
Williams is no stranger to injury, having played a full season only once in his seven-year career. He has dealt with back ailments on a number of occasions, including a herniated disc in his rookie campaign and a fracture suffered in Week 18 of last season which kept him out of the Chargers’ wild-card loss. This latest injury is of a different variety, but it will nevertheless be a signficant one if it proves to shut Williams down for the remainder of 2023.
The Clemson alum is currently in the second season of his three-year, $60MM extension. That pact took the place of a potential 2022 franchise tag, and ensured the Chargers would have the tandem of Williams and Keenan Allen intact through 2024. Both wideouts are set to hit free agency at the end of next season, but an extension for either or both could be in order since they are each scheduled to count for more than $32MM against the cap next year.
Williams was off to a good start to the campaign, especially in yesterday’s contest. Allen, too, has had a highly productive first three weeks (posting 402 yards and a pair of touchdowns on a league-leading 32 receptions); the Chargers will need the latter to continue those performances if Williams does indeed miss the remainder of the campaign. 2021 third-rounder Josh Palmer – who enjoyed a career-year in 2022 with 72 catches and 769 yards – will take on a larger role in Williams’ absence.
The same will likely be true of rookie Quentin Johnston. One of four wideouts taken in a four-pick span in the first round of April’s draft, the TCU product entered the league with signficant expectations but plenty of competition for snaps and targets. If Williams is forced to miss signficant time, Johnston (who has played only 48 snaps to date) could find himself in a starter’s role. His ability to shoulder an increased workload could go a long way in keeping the Chargers’ passing offense intact through the remainder of the campaign.