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Which free agent might the San Diego Chargers use their cap space on?

After making a few roster moves over the last week, the San Diego Chargers now have a comfortable amount of salary cap space heading into the season. Might they sign one of the still available free agents?

Nick Laham

As it presently stands, the San Diego Chargers have about $4.9 million in salary cap space as their first 2014 preseason game approaches. That is money that was created by releasing Larry English, waiving Jonas Mouton, and asking Jeromey Clary to take a pay cut.

Is it nice to have a cushion? Absolutely, but a $5 million cushion is pretty big. The team could be holding onto it to get it to carryover for next year's cap, or they could be clearing space to make a move in free agency. Even if they're not, it never hurts to look around and see what is out there.

About a month ago, Gregg Rosenthal wrote up this list of the ten best free agents available and it's still mostly accurate. Let's go through it and see if any of those guys could be targets for the Chargers this offseason.

  • Jermichael Finley - Even if he was healthy (which is a big if), the Chargers are set at TE.
  • Kevin Williams - Was signed by the Seattle Seahawks.
  • Santonio Holmes - Let's come back to this one.... (see below)
  • Asante Samuel - Somehow, San Diego is now stacked and set at CB.
  • Dustin Keller - Same issue(s) as Jermichael Finley.
  • Travelle Wharton - Has stated publicly that he will retire.
  • James Harrison - If the Chargers wanted a washed up pass-rusher to be occasionally effective, they would've kept English.
  • Paris Lenon - A journeyman LB would not find a place on this team, not even on Special Teams.
  • Josh Freeman - No.
  • Ed Reed - Not unless Eric Weddle suffers some sort of catastrophic injury.

The way I see it, the only interesting name on that list is Santonio Holmes. That being said, it's very interesting. Holmes would be an immediate upgrade over Vincent Brown as the team's 3rd/4th WR, and would provide plenty of insurance behind a trio of Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd, and Eddie Royal, each having a notable injury history.

Holmes has also won a Super Bowl, been to the AFC Championship a handful of times, and is a good fit for an offense that rewards players that can get open quickly and one that is desperate for a deep threat.

Potential Roadblocks

  • Holmes has had some difficulties staying healthy. He missed twelve games in 2012 and five games last year. He may only be 30 years old, but there's a lot of miles on him.
  • Holmes has had some trouble with the law. He was suspended for one game in 2008 after being cited for possession of marijuana, and was suspended four games in 2010 for failing a drug test (reportedly testing positive for marijuana). However, he has had no off-the-field issues in the last four seasons (since being traded to the Jets).
  • The Jets released Holmes after the conclusion of last season because they did not want to pay a premium price for an aging WR that seemed to be developing injury issues. They saved more than $5 million by releasing him.

Could it be a match?

I'm sure Santonio is going to wait a few more weeks to see if he might get a chance at a starting job somewhere else in the league, but San Diego could be one of his better options once he resigns himself to a backup role. Similar to Brandon Flowers, he could sign a one-year deal and then start working with one of the league's best QBs in an offense full of pass-catchers that like to get hurt.

The Chargers could save about $1.2 million by releasing Vincent Brown, who would most certainly lose his roster spot to Holmes. That would leave the team with a little more than $6 million in cap space, which could be evenly split between a one-year, $3 million deal for Holmes (which is more than Floyd and Royal get) and some cap space cushion for emergencies during the season.