The Chargers have a total of 15 players set to become free agents at 4pm EST on March 10th. Tom Telesco, along with his staff and the coaching staff, will have to decide which of those players will be given an offer to stay, or shown the door with a "thanks for your contributions and good luck."
Kyle Posey and myself will each offer our top 3 to keep, top 3 to let go, and top 3 non-free agents who either need to restructure or be cut.
Here are all 15 free agents and their ages, for the Chargers this year. All of them are Unrestricted Free Agents save for Trevor Robinson who is a Restricted Free Agent. Mat McBriar is also a free agent, but with Mike Scifres coming back healthy, there is no reason to re-sign a veteran punter to keep 2.
|Trevor Robinson||24 *RFA|
Three Chargers to Restructure or Be Cut
I want to start by clarifying this section. Yes, there are guys like Philip Rivers and Eric Weddle, that it would be nice to restructure, but those are not guys that you could cut if you can't. This list is for guys that aren't worth their cap number this year, and while you'd like to restructure to keep them while bringing down their cap impact, if you can't, letting them go might help the team more.
Cap savings if cut: $5,000,000
JJ is an awesome player. I love having him on our team for more than what he contributes on the field. However, he is going to be 34 before the start of the season and is not a 3 down player in our defense.
Cap savings if cut: $3,550,000
Rinehart was one of our worst offensive lineament last year. The Chargers will likely either be signing or drafting his replacement this year or Chris Watt will replace him if the bolts acquire a new starting center. I don't even recommend restructuring him unless you can get his cap # to 1 million or below.
Cap savings if cut: $1,916,666
I know Tom Telesco said there were no plans to cut Brown, but I don't see how that helps the team. He is currently the 10th highest paid player on the team and definitely is not a top 10 player on this team. While I do see his value, especially with the Chargers injury history at the RB position, I think he could be restructured to help us bring back our bigger name free agents.
Jarret Johnson bring a presence in the run game that no one else brings to the team. But with his play time diminishing and age, you can't possibly bring him back at $5 million a year. I would look to cut that salary in half.
I'll sound like a broken record this offseason at certain positions but with Chad Rinehart he proved that chemistry doesn't matter if you can't handle your assignments. He should stay on the team as a backup but shouldn't make more than $1.5 million.
"Damnit Donald" Brown showed up this year for the Chargers. He brought nothing to the team that any other back off the street couldn't. Cutting him to save $1.92 million is a no brainer.
Top 3 to Let Go
Gilchrist is a weak link. Yes, he is versatile, yes he knows the defense, but he just isn't very good. He doesn't do well in coverage and he is a below average tackler. There are plenty of guys out there who can do what he does or better. I also think that letting a guy like Gilchrist go would show the fans and possibly some of the players on the team that the management is committed to getting better.
Freeney is going to be 35 before the season starts. He was a great player once, but he has a real problem with staying healthy recently. The Chargers also invested an early pick on a pass rusher last year and may do the same this year, so we need to get these guys time on the field.
Brown was a nice patch when our backfield got bit by the injury bug this past year, but he is almost 34 and the bolts will almost certainly draft a running back this year. It's time to let him go.
My 1st two are in the secondary. Yes, it creates 2 holes in the defensive backfield. No, neither players production will be missed. Shareece Wright showed no improvements from year 1 to year 2 as a starter. He'll be in the same position(on the outside guarding the number 2 receiver) if he's brought back for another year and will likely give up the same costly plays he did this year. Telesco has a chance to bring in "his" kind of corner that actually knows when to look for the ball and understands what routes are coming on 3rd and 6.
Marcus Gilchrist is another guy that's limited and shouldn't be playing starter snaps. It's not versatile if you're not good at both spots, and he isn't. He's not a sure tackler, not as aggressive as he should be, doesn't cover like a corner and doesn't hit like a safety. Another guy that can be replaced.
Dwight Freeney was the best pass rusher on the Chargers. Letting him go would be tough but to depend on an edge rusher to be productive for a full season at his age again is playing with fire. This is where free agency is huge for the Chargers to fill this position.
Top 3 to keep
Flowers needs to be retained. Verrett showed some good promise last year and hopefully he can put together a healthy year this year, but Flowers was awesome last year. According to Pro Football Focus he was the 15th best corner in the league, and if it wasn't for weeks 14-16, when he was playing hurt, he would have been at least 6th best, but more likely top 5. He may be a little expensive but we need to keep him or our defensive backfield will be in a world of hurt.
Dunlap presents a similar situation to Flowers, if we don't bring him back, our line is in trouble. Dunlap is the only stability the Chargers will have on the offensive line if he is brought back and he is definitely not a liability.
The "other" Mathews was refreshing last year. He plays with great energy and helped make for a pretty effective rotation on the defensive line for the Chargers. We already have a question mark at nose tackle, so I think it would be best to keep ahold of any other bright spots we have on the d-line.
Brandon Flowers is a no brainer-the secondary needs a smart defender on the perimeter. Him and Verrett compliment each other well.
King Dunlap is another no brainer. He fits what San Diego wants to do, and he's earned the right to a bigger contract. You don't want to head into the draft needing 2 offensive tackles.
Ricardo Mathews. Not a splashy name, but Mathews was very productive and showed he can play and win inside at defensive tackle and outside and defensive end. He was a big reason the defensive line played better later in the year. The Chargers need his energy up front.
So who do all of you think the Chargers should keep, cut, or let go? Let us know in the comments.