Remnants of A.J. Smith on the Chargers roster

Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

This isn't quite Tom Telesco's San Diego Chargers just yet. First, he needs to rid his roster of the mistakes of A.J. Smith.

Not that he would, but this is the last season where San Diego Chargers GM Tom Telesco will be able to push any blame onto his predecessor. But, hoo boy, there is a lot of blame left.

Allow me to look at all of the "starters" on the team, and categorize their 2014 cap hit as "good" or "bad" based on their perceived on-field value (these lists are entirely biased):

(Rookie contracts are italicized)


Good Contracts

Philip Rivers ($16.6 million, 9th QB)

Eric Weddle ($10.1 million, 2nd Safety)

Nick Hardwick ($6.1 million, 6th Center)

Malcom Floyd ($3.9 million, 33rd WR)

Dwight Freeney ($3.8 million, 22nd OLB)

Ryan Mathews ($3.6 million, 17th RB)

Jarret Johnson ($3.5 million, 25th OLB)

Donald Butler ($2.9 million, 26th ILB)

Corey Liuget ($2.6 million, 56th DE)

D.J. Fluker ($2.5 million, 38th OT)

King Dunlap ($2.4 million, 41st OT)

Melvin Ingram ($2.2 million, 39th OLB)

Danny Woodhead ($2.2 million, 25th RB)

Chad Rinehart ($1.7 million, 43rd OG)

Nick Novak ($1.7 million, 16th Kicker)

Manti Te'o ($1.1 million, 42nd ILB)

Kendall Reyes ($1.1 million, 79th DE)

Sean Lissemore ($1.0 million, 55th DT)

Shareece Wright ($781k, 83rd CB)

Keenan Allen ($658k, 110th WR)

Richard Marshall ($570k, 134th CB)

Jahleel Addae ($496k, 135th Safety)


When you look at how little the team spends on Cornerbacks, it almost makes sense why the Chargers have been so terrible at that spot.

Final tally is 22 "good" contracts, 13 of which are not rookie deals. A.J. Smith is responsible for 5 of the non-rookie deals and 5 of the rookie deals. That leaves Telesco with 12 good contracts, 7 "signed" and 5 "drafted".


Bad Contracts

Antonio Gates ($7.3 million, 4th TE)

Jeromey Clary ($6.2 million, 13th OG)

Eddie Royal ($5 million, 23rd WR)

Mike Scifres ($4 million, 1st Punter)

Jared Gaither ($4 million)

Derek Cox ($3.9 million)

Robert Meachem ($3.7 million)

Le'Ron McClain ($833k)


8 "bad" contracts, all but one of them (Cox) being signed under the reign of A.J. Smith.

The good news here is that next offseason is going to be loads of fun. Clary, Royal, Gaither, Cox, Meachem and McClain will be coming off the books. The team could save about $3.4 million in cap space if they decide to release the (then) 34-year old Scifres, and they could save another $5.2 million in cap space if they decide to release the (then) 34-year old Gates.

All told, just by getting rid of the "bad" contracts on the team, the Chargers could clear north of $30 million in cap space. That is why, when Tom Telesco took over the job as Chargers GM, I said that he was building towards 2015.

Now, obviously, last year's playoff run has sped things up a bit. It has (unfairly) raised expectations. Mostly, it's shown that A.J. Smith wasn't necessarily the problem, and that a good coach could actually get something out of the roster that Smith had (mostly) built. However, we won't get a good idea of the team Telesco wants on the field until we see what he does with all that cap space next offseason.

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