Antonio Brown will be a focus of attention in 2019 for the Raiders, for good reason. At age 30, he remains one of the NFL’s best big-play receivers. He led the league in touchdown catches in 2018 for the Steelers and should be motivated to show his former team he’s still a star.
But Tyrell Williams may be just as important an addition to the Oakland wide receiver corps.
The former Charger has long been overlooked, beginning as an undrafted free agent out of Western Oregon in 2015. But the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder was among the top wideouts in the NFL in yards per reception in 2018 (15.9) and has an even better mark for his career (16.3).
Over 16 games in 2018 for the Chargers, Williams had 41 catches for 653 yards and five touchdowns, including one TD play that went 75 yards. He’s a true deep threat who has three scoring catches of 75 or more yards in his four NFL seasons.
The analytic website Pro Football Focus noted that Williams has been the “third or fourth fiddle” in the Chargers’ offense, so it’s possible his career will blossom with his new team, given more opportunities. That may especially be true with the Raiders, with opposing defenses focused on Brown.
Plus, Williams – who was an all-state high school athlete in Oregon for football, basketball and track -- is eager for a chance to prove what he can with his new team.
“I definitely feel like I’m a No. 1 receiver,” Williams said, as he entered free agency.
His general manager with the Chargers, Tom Telesco, told ESPN.com that Williams has worked hard to improve since he came into the league, and that work ethic has produced results. But the Chargers believed they couldn't afford to keep him.
“This past year, his game had already been solid and he kind of took it to the next level this year,” said Telesco. “He’s certainly earned his second contract.”
The Raiders signed Williams to a four-year deal that could be worth as much as $44.3 million.