Well, Robert Meachem didn't actually give the Chargers anything. More accurately, he let the Chargers not pay him as much since he was getting paid by another team, the New Orleans Saints.
Before I explain all that, I'm going to ask you all to remember a week or so back before Brandon Flowers was a Charger. There was no way they could sign him. They simply didn't have the money. I was convinced. I think I convinced John. I tried to convince you all. How do you sign a guy who was scheduled to make $5.25 Million in 2014 when you only have about $2.7 Million in effective cap space?
Then they signed him for $3 Million and I warned you all that we should expect to hear that someone was going to be cut. After all, how else were we going to get back under cap? I stayed glued to Twitter and the NFLPA site, refreshing the team report to see some update. Early this week it updated, and for a brief period the Chargers showed as $297k in the hole. How can that be? You're never supposed to be over cap. Well, the Chargers knew something that probably few people outside of the NFL, NFLPA, Robert Meachem, and his agent, knew: There was offset language in Meachem's contract.
An offset is basically what I described in the first paragraph: If a player who is guaranteed a salary is paid a salary by a new team, the old team only pays the difference between his old contract and his new one. There is also language in the CBA that states that when a team receives a refund of player salary, that salary will be added to the subsequent year's salary cap. The Chargers knew they had a $715k windfall coming.
What does this mean for next year? Well, nothing, since the dead money they're paying him this year is just deferred signing bonus.
So, class, what did we learn?: Trust in Telesco. He's playing chess while we amateur Capologists are playing checkers. That is if checkers is gleaning cap info from a slow-to-update public reporting system and Twitter, and chess is yelling down the hallway, "Hey Ed [McGuire]. How much money we got?"
(Credit to Jason at overthecap.com for discovering the offset)