Lions Make Savvy Signing of Former Raiders Wideout: Report

Tyrell Williams Raiders Lions

Getty Tyrell Williams celebrates a score with the Raiders.

The Detroit Lions were looking to improve their depth at wideout this offseason and have wasted little time getting a deal done with a player on the open market.

On Wednesday afternoon, ESPN’s Adam Schefter revealed that the Lions have reached an agreement with former Las Vegas Raiders wideout Tyrell Williams. The terms? A one-year deal worth up to $6.2 million dollars for the 2021 season.

Williams had the advantage of being able to sign prior to free agency opening on March 17 because he was cut by the Raiders on February 24. So to that end, there isn’t a holdup here like other impending unrestricted free agents. The fact the Lions didn’t wait to sign Williams is interesting, and the team clearly wanted to pounce to ensure that they would have the best chance of landing a player many saw as one of the best potential values on the market.

Now, Williams will join forces with a team set to take on a major identity change in the weeks and months ahead. His signing might be just the beginning of the offensive transformation under new head coach Dan Campbell and quarterback Jared Goff.

Williams Had Obvious Connection With Lions

The reason Williams makes a ton of sense in Detroit has everything to do with Anthony Lynn. Detroit’s new offensive coordinator coached Williams for two seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017-18, and it’s clear that he believed in Williams enough in order to keep him on the Chargers roster for a few years. Oftentimes, free agency destinations have plenty to do with former coaches a given player is comfortable with, and this once again could be no exception given Lynn’s presence in Detroit.

Williams might be taking a bit of a pay cut to come to the Lions now, but if he had a solid relationship with Lynn, it might not be that tough of an ask. There’s also no question he could help fill the team’s pass-catching void in a big way given his previous production in the league.

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Williams Has Been Consistent on the Stat Sheet

Williams originally entered the NFL in 2015 as an undrafted free agent out of Western Oregon, choosing to sign with the then-San Diego Chargers. He stayed there for the first four seasons of his career before signing with the Raiders in 2019, a spot he has called home for the last two seasons.

In terms of production, the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder has bucked the odds for an undrafted free agent in the league, putting up 3,181 yards and 23 touchdowns across five seasons. He broke out in a big way as a sophomore with a career-high 1,059 yards and seven touchdowns on 69 receptions. While he hasn’t been able to match those totals in recent years, Williams was a very consistent presence between 2017-19. In each season during that span, the Lions’ newest addition was good for between 41-43 catches, 651-728 yards and four-to-six scores.

Unfortunately, injuries have intervened during his last two seasons, with a foot ailment in 2019 slowing his production and a torn labrum ending his 2020 campaign before it even began. With this in mind, it always seemed that Williams may have to take more of a “prove it” deal, which is just what the Lions are providing in the end.

With a deal apparently in place, Williams is arguably the first piece in what could be a major offseason of change for the Lions’ wideout group.

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