First things first, I would like to clearly and definitively state that I have absolutely nothing against Donald Brown. He seems to be a good guy and he's a fine running back who had a solid career with the Indianapolis Colts.
That being said, I would like to formally beg the San Diego Chargers to reconsider their stance on him. Yesterday, while chatting with Scott Kaplan and Hank Bauer, Chargers GM Tom Telesco said the following:
Telesco: We're not asking Melvin Gordon to carry the ball 300 times. We love the depth (at running back on the Chargers roster). I think Branden Oliver could be a starter, Donald Brown has been a starter in this league, and we've seen what Danny Woodhead has done. I love all four of those guys.
Kaplan: Are all four of those guys likely to make the team?
Telesco: *Laughs* Yeah, I would say so.
WHAT?!? How? Why?
Branden Oliver has looked great in camp and in the first preseason game. Tommy's right, he could be a starter. Danny Woodhead is arguably more valuable than whoever the starter ends up being (Melvin Gordon).
There is no question that Donald Brown is (at best) the 4th best RB on this roster. In fact, all you have to do to confirm that is look at the Chargers' own depth chart:
Grouped in with undrafted free agents. That's about right, considering the performance of the three guys above him.
Now, if Donald Brown were making the same amount as an undrafted free agent, this article isn't being written. However.....
Combined Salary Cap Figures 2015 & 2016:
- Melvin Gordon: $4.5 million
- Danny Woodhead: $5.5 million
- Branden Oliver: $1.1 million
- Donald Brown: $8.6 million
Look at that. Look at it!
Not only is Donald Brown the 11th highest paid player on the Chargers roster, he's the 11th highest paid running back in the entire league!
Even if Tom Telesco loves him some Donald Brown, and all of the evidence seems to say that he does, Kid Dynamite has every right to demand a contract renegotiation.
It should not be a foregone conclusion that Donald Brown is going to make the Chargers. Keeping Jahwan Edwards or Dreamius Smith over Donald Brown offers roughly the same output, but cutting Brown saves the team $1.8 million in salary cap space this year and $4.5 million in cap space next year (not to mention saving the team $6 million in actual cash).
As a General Manager of an NFL team, Telesco owes it to himself to not sit back and let this albatross screw up the salary cap of the entire team. That's what he's doing if he allows Brown to take up over more than $8 million in cap space over the next two years while being 4th on the depth chart.
Even if the Chargers were to have catastrophic injuries to the rest of their RBs, as they did last season, Brown still wouldn't be very useful.
In 2014, Brown's 2.6 yards per carry ranked him below Oliver (3.6), Ryan Mathews (4.5), Philip Rivers (2.8), Ronnie Brown (4.2) and Eddie Royal (4.7) on the roster in that statistical category. He also had less yards-per-reception than Oliver, less receiving touchdowns than Oliver, and less receptions than Oliver with only 4 less targets from Rivers.
Letting the worst running back on your roster be the highest-paid running back on your roster is the type of thing that teams, and their General Managers, live to regret for a long time. Don't make that mistake, Telesco. Demand a pay cut from Brown or start coming to grips with the fact that you'll need to release him during roster cuts.