The San Diego Chargers currently have 27 players under contract whose contracts are up at the end of the season. Notable names include Melvin Ingram, Danny Woodhead, Manti Te’o, Jahleel Addae, Branden Oliver, Kellen Clemens, Dontrelle Inman, Korey Toomer, Mike Windt, Sean Lissemore, and a few other names.
According to Spotrac, the Chargers are projected to have about $12.6 million in cap space with no roster moves. A rather large portion is going to D.J. Fluker at $8.8 million dollars after they picked up his 5th-year option, which will rank him as the 6th most expensive guard in 2017. I believe they could lessen the blow of that by signing him to a long-term contract. Even if he’s paid like a top 10 guy (which he wouldn't be), he’d make about $5.5 million a year. That gives the Chargers an additional $3 million to play with. Cap = $15.6 million.
If the Chargers release Brandon Flowers, (he’s on the hook for $11 million next season, and $11.4 million the season after), they will save $7 million, but be left with a 4 million dollar dead cap from his signing bonus. Cap = $22.6 million.
If the Chargers release Orlando Franklin, who is currently in the 2nd year of a 5 year contract, his dead cap hit would be 4.8 million, compared to a $7.6 million dollar salary. Cap = $25.4 million. If all that dead cap space worries you, think about this. Tom Telesco has done a pretty good job with managing Donald Butler ($6.7 million), Donald Brown ($1 million), Jacoby Jones ($800k), Mike Scifres ($600k), and about 49 other players, the lowest being Ryan Mueller (FB), at $667.00, and the highest being Chris Watt at $500k.
Head on over and take a look at the New Orleans Saints. $41.1 million in dead cap space. That’s $9 million more than the 2nd place Browns and $17 million more than the #3 Falcons. Junior Galette alone accounts for $12.1 million.
All I’m saying is that cutting people like Brandon Flowers, and Orlando Franklin will push their dead cap up, but they’re only scheduled to pay out just over $150,000 in dead cap next season as of this moment.
Throw in Antonio Gates’ probable retirement, and that’s an additional $5 million in cap space. Stevie Johnson’s probable cut will lead to $1 million in dead cap but compared to his $4.5 million salary it’s doable. This is especially so considering the emergence of Tyrell Williams, Keenan Allen’s legitimacy as a #1 receiver, and the boat anchor contract that is tied to Travis Benjamin. Cap = $31.1 million.
That’s not a whole lot, but, it’s enough to get the guys they want.
The Chargers will probably resign Melvin Ingram, Jahleel Addae, Dontrelle Inman, and Korey Toomer. I imagine they let Manti Te’o, Stevie Johnson, Orlando Franklin, Brandon Flowers, Danny Woodhead, Sean Lissemore, and Mike Windt walk in free agency.
The players I am having trouble with are Tenny Palepoi and Branden Oliver. If I had to guess, both players will receive a contract but could go either way.
Melvin Ingram: Spotrac thinks his contract will be valued at about $11.7 million a year, with his contract being the 3rd most expensive OLB contract out there. I believe Chandler Jones of the Cardinals is going to get PAID. That’s going to drive up the value of Melvin Ingram, as the only other guy in that range is Nick Perry who doesn't have another good season outside of this one. Melvin Ingram might be asking for a $12 million a year, for a 4-year contract, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets it. If he doesn’t get it with the Chargers, he’ll get it elsewhere. Projected cap = $19 million.
Jahleel Addae: I can’t see him being worth more than $2-3 million a year. He’ll probably want the higher side of this, but they’ll probably meet in the middle somewhere due to his injuries. Projected contract: 3 years, $7 million. Projected Cap = 16 million.
Dontrelle Inman: Similar contract to Jahleel Addae. He has contributed a lot this season. Projected Contract: 3 years, $7 million. Projected Cap = $14 million.
Korey Toomer: He’s earned some money, but will still be behind Jatavis Brown and Denzel Perryman. Projected Contract: 3 years, $5 million. Projected Cap = $13 million.
That leaves just about $13 million to sign a free agent TE to back up Hunter Henry, an RB (I’m hoping for Ronnie Hillman), potentially Tenny Palepoi and Branden Oliver, and some other small pieces to the puzzle.