Last offseason, in an attempt to replace Vincent Jackson as a downfield threat for the San Diego Chargers passing game, A.J. Smith signed Richard Meachem to a 4 year contract worth $25.9 million.
When you add together his signing bonus and his first year salary, the San Diego Chargers paid Rupert $9 million for that first season. They're due to pay him $16.5 million over the next three seasons if he stays with the team.
If the team were to release him this offseason, it would count for $5.625 million against the 2013 salary cap. If they were to keep him, he would count for $6.875 million against the 2013 salary cap. That's a savings of $1.25 million for this season.
During his first season with the team, Meachem caught 14 passes (his lowest since his rookie season) for 207 yards (his lowest ever) and 2 touchdowns (his lowest ever). He also ran the ball once (his lowest ever) for -6 yards (his lowest ever). He was on the field for 406 snaps. By comparison, Danario Alexander played 499 snaps despite being signed during Week 8 of the season.
Meachem's numbers are pretty weak for a #3 WR, much less a #1 WR. He never seemed to grasp Norv Turner's offense, and never got on the same page with Philip Rivers. This season, he'll seemingly have to compete with four guys (Danario Alexander, Malcom Floyd, Vincent Brown, Antonio Gates) that already have outstanding chemistry with the Chargers Quarterback.
Working in Meachem's favor is the amount he was paid last season ($9 million!) added to the fact that he's still a 28 year old with above-average speed and a history of success in the New Orleans Saints' offense. That means that the $9 million was more of an investment than a first year salary, and the Spanos family is probably pushing for that $5 million to be spent in 2013 to see if Meachem is actually a bust or could improve in another offensive system.