The Las Vegas Raiders have been expected for some time to release wide receiver Tyrell Williams. He signed a four-year, $44.3 million contract back in 2019, but his brief tenure with the team has been marred with injuries. The Raiders decided to officially release Williams on Wednesday.
With the February 24 decision to let go of Williams, the Raiders save $11.6 million in cap space. While he’s a solid player when he’s on the field, the team couldn’t afford to pay that much money to a guy who hardly plays.
There was a lot of hype for Williams when he first joined the team. He lit up training camp in 2019 and was expected to be the team’s No. 1 wide receiver when Antonio Brown was let go.
Williams’ first season with the silver and black got off to a good start with a touchdown catch in each of his first five games. Unfortunately, he began suffering from plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation in the foot, in Week 2, NBC Sports reported, and in Week 4 ended up out for three weeks before returning and playing through the pain for months. He only caught one more touchdown that season.
The hope was that the now-29-year-old would bounce back in 2020, but he tore a labrum in his shoulder before the season started and did not play a single game. After two disappointing years in a row, Williams will now have to try to turn things around with a new team.
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Will Raiders Replace Williams?
With Williams officially off the roster and Nelson Agholor an impending free agent next month, the Raiders may have a need at wide receiver. It’s not an ideal position for the team to be in as they don’t have a lot of money, and what money they do have should be allocated on defense. According to Spotrac, Las Vegas is currently $2.5 million over a projected $185 million team salary cap in 2021, meaning the front office will need to move some cash around via contract restructures or parting ways with other pricey veterans.
The Raiders’ young wide receivers haven’t shown much yet to make the team comfortable with the positional de heading into 2021. The first order of business should be trying to re-sign Agholor. He had a career-best season with 896 yards and eight touchdowns so he’s expected to secure a nice raise. However, this year’s free agent class is loaded with wide receiver talent, which will probably drive his price down. If the Raiders can retain him at around $10 million per year, they should make it happen. If not, they might need to go after an aging player like Cincinnati Bengals wideout A.J. Green.
Raiders Need Young WRs to Step Up
No matter what the Raiders do in free agency, Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards need to take a step forward next season. Both 2020 rookies received a lot of hype heading into the season but neither player made much of an impact, combining for 618 yards and three touchdowns on 37 catches. Ruggs, the first wide receiver drafted in an absolutely loaded class last year, is going to have to improve significantly if the Raiders hope to save face.
Edwards wasn’t expected to have much of a role as a rookie due to injury issues but he looked really good in training camp. The 6-foot-3, 212-pounder ended up earning a starting role but saw his playing time diminish as the season progressed. He showed flashes in the season finale against the Denver Broncos so there’s still hope for him entering his age 23 season. The Raiders better hope that either Ruggs or Edwards turns into a stud or it’s going to put them in a really bad spot.