I wrote a fan post before the 2009 season, making some guesses/predictions on which of the Charger free agents the team would/could sign, and still make it under the cap. You can read the original article here.
I wanted to update that based on the new 2009 salary information.
I made a few assumptions that have since been confirmed. I’m going to do the same again.
As it stands now, the 2009 NFL cap is $127 million per team. The Chargers are currently spending ~$115 million, and therefore have ~$12 million of cap space left in 2009.
I’m still going to work under the Assumption 3, that 2010 will be a capped year, because even though this is unlikely to happen, I believe the Chargers will continue in the framework of the current salary cap for 2010.
Assumption 4: 2010 will have a salary cap of $137 million - Based on the last 6 years, the average increase in the cap each year is ~9.3%. We'll take the median 4 year average and calculate the 2010 cap using an increase of 7.5%.
NFL Cap by Year [million]: 2009 [$127 million], 2008 [$116 million], 2007 [$109 million], 2006 [$102 million], 2005 [$85.5 million], 2004 [$80.5 million].
This gives the Chargers a total of $22 million in cap space for 2010. I’m going to take the following players off the books for 2010 treating them as Free Agents. This allows us to easily see how much the Chargers have to spend in 2010, and then account for these players as Restricted Free Agent tenders, or new contracts offers.
LaDanian Tomlinson $7.5 million
Darren Sproles $6.6 million
Vincent Jackson $0.9 million
Malcom Floyd $1.5 million
Brandon Manumaleuna $1.7 million
Marcus McNeil $0.9 million
Shawne Merriman $4.5 million
Kassim Osgood $1.2 million
Tim Dobbins $0.6 million
Charlie Whitehurst $0.7 million
Subtracting all of these players salaries adds another $26 million of cap space, leaving us a total of $48 million to spend on these players, and any other new free agents or contracts.
Assumption 5: The Chargers will offer the following contracts/RFA tenders to these players. I’m going to go with the contract situation for those players that the Chargers should be looking at long term, and the RFA tender for players that Chargers may keep for only one additional year:
LaDanian Tomlinson cut
Darren Sproles [4 years for $16 million] Average cap hit $4.0 million
Vincent Jackson [5 years for $45 million] Average cap hit $9.0 million
Malcom Floyd [4 years for $12 million] Average cap hit $3.0 million
Brandon Manumaleuna[3 years for $6 million] Average cap hit $2.0 million
Marcus McNeill [6 years for $60 million] Average cap hit $10.0 million
Shawne Merriman [6 years for $70 million] Average cap hit $11.7 million
Kassim Osgood released
Tim Dobbins 2nd round RFA Tender [$1.5 million]
Charlie Whitehurst 2nd round RFA Tender [1.5 million]
Total 2010 cap space =$48 million
Total new contract offers (per year) =$42.7 million
Total 2010 cap space after new contract offers =$5.3 million.
Hopefully this gives you somewhat of an idea of what AJ Smith is looking at, or what the Chargers may decide to do in the future. The Chargers have never been a team to spend a lot of money, however with Rivers extension they are 9th this year in total payroll (they were 19th in 2008). The ones I really question are the Merriman and Sproles contracts. Sproles may not sign a contract offer of $4 million, and the Chargers may not even offer Merriman a long term contract.
Let me know what you think. Are these reasonable contract offers, will the Chargers push their salaries that high up to edge of the cap? It should be an interesting off season.