Tyrell Williams had a disappointing first season with the Raiders. The veteran wide receiver would be the first to admit that.
His 2019 campaign was hindered by a severe bout of plantar fasciitis that bothered him from Week 2 forward.
That might’ve closed an escape hatch for the team after his first season, considering a source raised the possibility he still wasn’t totally healthy and the second year of a four-year, $44 million contract was guaranteed for injury.
Health no longer mattered Wednesday, when his $11 million base salary in 2020 became fully guaranteed regardless of current physical health. The Raiders will employ Williams for a second season, with the belief he will rebound from his first significant injury in five professional seasons.
He had 42 catches for 651 yards and six touchdowns in 2019, a less-than-spectacular sum due in large part to his ailing feet. The injury was a setback for the Raiders especially after Antonio Brown went nuclear and was cut just before the regular season started.
Williams missed some three weeks -- two games and a bye -- after Week 4 but continued to play through pain until season’s end. He wasn’t himself, losing speed from his long strides and agility to make contested catches.
Head coach Jon Gruden acknowledged those setbacks in his postseason press conference, which occurred after he and Williams had a long talk about his first Raiders season.
“We have to go back and I watch him in training camp and Week 1 when he was healthy against Denver, and he’s a talented guy,” Gruden said on Dec. 30, 2019. “But it’s hard to play when your feet are on fire and his feet were hurting bad. It’s a credit to him to play through it, but we need to get him healthy.
"… But we think he’s an excellent football player, he’s just got to get right.”
Williams can be a productive player went right. He proved that in 2016, when he had 69 catches for 1,059 yards as the then San Diego Chargers’ primary receiver. He can be an awesome No. 2 receiver able to make catches down the field and on intermediate routes using deceptive speed. He has also averaged 16.2 yards per reception, and the Raiders need someone who can consistently take yards in chunks.
Williams can be a solid member of a receiver corps that will be upgraded this offseason. He has been looking forward to that. The Raiders are expected to add talent and bodies to the position group, taking talent from a stacked NFL draft class. The Raiders could use one of two first-round picks on a dynamic receiving talent, but that shouldn’t stop them from adding more in free agency.
Williams will be back alongside 2019 fifth-round draft pick Hunter Renfrow, who established himself over the course of his rookie year. He has the slot locked down and Williams should work outside with a newcomer or two. Zay Jones remains under contract, though his role is uncertain after providing little impact after being acquired from the Buffalo Bills in a trade.
The Silver and Black have plenty of salary-cap space even after locking Williams' money in and signing Jalen Richard to a contract extension. While it seems less likely the Raiders sign another receiver to an eight-figure salary, upgrages are sure to come and help Williams thrive during the team's first season in Las Vegas.
The Raiders guaranteed other salaries on Wednesday. Center Rodney Hudson ($12.65 million), quarterback Derek Carr ($2.9 million) and guard Richie Incognito ($5 million) had money locked in for payment, though those amounts were never in real doubt.