Now that every position group on the Chargers have been analyzed, its time to start researching targets for the team to acquire to supplement their roster. Click Here to read every analysis of every position group if you missed it. The Bolts have $49M to spend according to Over the Cap. With those dollars, the Chargers will need to resign their own young players, work on contract extensions and acquire new free agents. There is a Rookie Compensation Pool, which is distributed to NFL teams based around the number of picks they have, but those funds become part of the salary cap, so the team must plan for that. They can also cut and/or restructure the contracts of a few of their players to create some extra cap space. Below is a list of every Chargers free agent.
The following players
crossed out are players the Chargers have said or I expect the team to move on from. Salaries are estimated from both Over the Cap and Spotrac. I don’t believe every player not crossed out above will be on the team next year, but I do believe Tom Telesco to at least have a conversation about bringing the player back as either a starter or depth piece. Also, contracts are typically back-end loaded, so cap numbers are estimated at average/year and not entirely accurate.
- Melvin Gorden – RB (1-4/yr – $7.5 to 10M Annual Approx.)
- Austin Ekeler – HB/WR (1-5/yrs – $7.5 to 10M Annual Approx.)
- Hunter Henry – TE (1-4/yr – $9M Annual Approx.)
- Sean Culkin – TE/ ST (1-3/yrs – $750K to 1M Annual Approx.)
- Derek Watt – FB/Personal Protector/ ST (1-3/yrs – $1.5 to 2.5M Annual Approx.)
- Michael Davis – CB (1-3/yrs – $3 to 5M Annual Approx.)
- Michael Schofield – G/T (1-3/yr – $6 to 8M Annual Approx.)
- Trent Scott – Swing Tackle (1-2/yrs – $750K to 1M Annual Approx.)
- Isaac Rochell – DE (1-2/yrs – $1 to 1.5M Annual Approx.)
- Damian Square – DT (1/yr – $2 to 2.5M Annual Approx.)
- Adrian Phillips – FS/SS/Nickel LB/ ST (1/yr – $2 to 3M Annual Approx.)
- Ryan Groy – G (1-2/yr – 750K to $1M Annual Approx.)
Dylan Cantrell – WR/ ST – Philip Rivers – QB Travis Benjamin – WR/PR Jaylen Watkins – FS/ST Nick Dzubnar – MLB/Special Teamer Lance Kendricks – TE/ST Geremy Davis – WR/ ST Gunner Sylvester Williams – DT Troymaine Pope – RB/KR/PR Jatavis Brown – LB/ST Dillion Deboer – C Spencer Drango – G
Between Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler, I do not believe the Chargers will bring back both, at least long-term. Austin Ekeler is a restricted free agent, who is worthy of at least a 2nd-round tender, or possibly even a 1st. The 1st-Round tender would cost $4.6M, though I would slap him the 2nd-rounder tender for $3.3M. If a team was willing to give that up, I would let him go honestly. As far as Melvin Gordon is concerned, I would offer him a 4/yr, $36M contract with $24M guaranteed ($9M/year). This provides him a portion of the guaranteed money he is looking for, on a team friendly deal that provides a ripcord after the 2nd year. Its not the most ideal situation, but Gordon has indicated he wants to be a Charger, and he lost a ton of leverage with the holdout. If he leaves and Ekeler sticks around, I’m giving Ekeler the same deal next year. If both leave, I’m using the 2nd-round tender from Ekeler on Johnathan Taylor, J.K. Dobbins, D’Andre Swift or whoever is best available with that pick this year. I don’t really see the value of Troymaine Pope, especially with a strong running back class.
Ideal Scenario: Ekeler signs tender, Gordon leaves. Cap hit 3.3M. Would love the draft scenario as well
Tight Ends/Full Back/Receivers
Hunter Henry needs to be back with this team. Replacing a player of his caliber will not be easy, and even with the injury concern, he is worth every dollar of the $9.2M Transition Tag. I am offering him a 4-year, $38M contract($9.5M/yr) while he is on the transition tag. If a team offers anything up to a $10M/year contract, I am matching it. Anything more, and it looks like I am rolling with Sean Culkin(2yr, $1.5M), Virgil Green and maybe calling back Lance Kendricks. Not the most ideal scenario, and hopefully I can lure a free agent, but there are a ton of players who need to be paid, and I don’t want to over-price any player. Fullbacks provide great value at a cheap price, and Derek Watt is an above average fullback and elite special teamer. His value to this team is so much more than just as a full back. 3 years, $8 Million(2.6M/yr) pays him exceptionally well and I would even try to get him Tight End reps as well, especially if Henry leaves. Id like Cantrell back in camp just because and bye Benjamin.
Ideal Scenario: Henry, Culkin, Watt sign multi-year deals for total $13.8M cap hit.
There is not much good outside of signing Schofield to a team friendly deal, and even so, it wouldn’t be a splash signing. Schofield has been the most reliable player on the offensive line, having played every game and he would be worth $6-8M/yr in free agency as an above average pass-blocker. I wouldn’t do it as I believe Feeney and Lamp could be starters next year at a fraction of the price, and I am eyeing bigger signings in March if possible. I am signing Trent Scott to a 2 year, 1.5M contract just as a depth swing tackle for both side over Tevi. Doesn’t inspire much confidence, but he has some experience and I am hoping for growth. There will need to be a tackle kept on the roster after I drop Tevi off a cliff in a few weeks. Ryan Groy would also be a depth piece to back up either Guard position on a 1 year, 750K prove it deal. I am cutting everyone else.
Ideal Scenario: Sign Trent Scott and Ryan Groy to short term contracts for 1.5M cap hit.
I like Isaac Rochell as a player who has been around awhile and played decently well when filling in for both Bosa and Ingram when called upon. For a late round pick out of Notre Dame, he’s grown very well into a role player and isn’t going to be expensive in a limited role. 2-years, $3M contract keeps him around as a trusted player to plug on either side for depth. Damian Square has been the only other player to fill the 1-tech for Brandon Mebane, who is a cut candidate and he has been around a long time. His price should be similar to Rochell at 2-years, $3M. Sylvester Williams has a high draft pedigree, but couldn’t crack the lineup this season. There isn’t a linebacker on the group that played well enough to earn another contract. Jatavis Brown had a nice start a few years ago and could be back, but I’d rather look toward the draft or free agency to get better.
Ideal Scenario: Sign both Isaac Rochell and Damian Square for $3M cap hit.
Michael Davis isn’t given much credit, but he isn’t nearly as bad as the next player on the depth chart. He is the only other player I trust outside, especially since Desmond King is rarely out there. I’d give him a 3-year $13M contract, because I think he will be under-valued and outplay his contract. This provides the Bolts ample time to find him a replacement, and there won’t be a glaring hole opposite Hayward. The safety room is awfully crowed. Even so, I love Adrian Phillips and his versatility. The team is high on that, which is why he sticks around. Safeties are undervalued, keeping the price tag low on a 2-year, 5M contract. Jalen Watkins gets squeezed out.
Ideal Scenario: Sign Michael Davis and Adrian Phillips for a cap hit of $6.8M
With Philip Rivers already not returning, there is quite a bit of cap space for the team to resign some of its own players. If all these ideal scenarios do occur, there is a total of $28.4M spread between the Chargers free agents or $22.7M if the Bolts do sign Ekeler or Gordon to a $9M/yr contract. Assuming Ekeler is tendered and Gordon hits free agency, the Chargers will have a bit more than $20.4M in cap space (if accounting for back-ended contracts) going into free agency. This doesn’t even take into account cut casualties and contract restructures of players such as Denzel Perryman, Brandon Mebane and Russell Okung. This should ensure at least 1-2 splash signings, possibly more. Stay tuned for free agency!