"As an organization, we certainly understand and respect Damien's choice, knowing it was made in the best interest of his family," general manager Brett Veach said in a statement. "He means a lot to our football team as a player and a person, and we're going to miss having him around this season."
Williams led the Chiefs in rushing last season, totaling 498 rushing yards, 213 receiving yards and seven total touchdowns in 11 games. He was a key player in the Super Bowl LIV victory over the San Francisco 49ers, totaling 104 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown and one receiving score.
The running back helped seal the title with a 38-yard rushing score in the final minutes:
After seeing inconsistent playing time early in his career, Williams proved he could be a featured back and the Chiefs rewarded him by picking up his $2.3 million option for 2020. While he was expected to play a key role once again as the Chiefs defend their title, he will join teammate Laurent Duvernay-Tardif in opting out of the upcoming campaign.
This move also puts the spotlight on rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was the No. 32 overall pick in the 2020 draft and the first running back off the board.
The LSU product was a key part of the Tigers' national title run last season, totaling 1,867 yards from scrimmage and 17 touchdowns. His ability to contribute as a runner and receiver (55 receptions in 2019) could make him a go-to option in the Chiefs' high-powered attack.
Darwin Thompson, Darrel Williams, DeAndre Washington and Elijah McGuire could also earn playing time in the Kansas City backfield.