If you guys didn’t check out yesterday’s article, check it out here. Some people have brought to my attention that the numbers on spotrac and overthecap are different by about 10 million, and I acknowledge that. I looked back and from what I can tell, spotrac believes that the base salary cap for next year will be 155 million, as it is this year. Overthecap says it will be 10 million more, at 165 million. I believe those numbers have not been published yet, so it’s a difference in calculations. I would venture to guess the actual number will be closer to what Overthecap is projecting, as that is in line with how rapidly the cap has grown over the last few years.
Anyways, based on my projections I made yesterday, here are my projected starters for next season.
Quarterback: Philip Rivers
As long as he’s on the Chargers, he’ll be starting... ahem, Tony Romo.
Halfback: Melvin Gordon
He’s shown he can be a 3 down back this year. Next year, they’ll probably have re-signed Branden Oliver, and he’ll most likely take over on some 3rd downs to spell Melvin Gordon, so he doesn't have to touch the ball close to 400 times like he’s projected to do now. That has a history of going poorly.
Fullback: Derek Watt
Is he really considered a starter when he has received 6 and 7 snaps respectively the last two games?
Wide Receiver: Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams
Keenan is a no-brainer, and I think that Tyrell will jump both the probable re-sign Dontrelle Inman and Travis Benjamin on the depth chart because he is basically a mix of the two. He has blazing speed like Travis Benjamin, but actually has height, and he’s relatively reliable (see: Dontrelle Inman). I don’t believe Stevie will be back, so that leaves Travis Benjamin and Dontrelle Inman as the 3 and 4. 5 is up for grabs.
Tight End: Hunter Henry
Hunter Henry has had bright spots this season and is hidden at other times. The Chargers and Philip Rivers want Antonio Gates to obtain the record for most TD’s by a TE, but one could argue that is hurting the team, as Hunter Henry is the better TE on the team based on the eye test. Someone currently on the team will probably be the #2, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone picked up in free agency or a Ladarius Green type picked up late in the draft.
Offensive Line: King Dunlap, Draftee, Matt Slauson, DJ Fluker, Joe Barksdale
This is where things get hairy. This line is old and/or not very good. King Dunlap and Matt Slauson are both in their 30s, and Dunlap is experiencing decline already. DJ Fluker is remarkably average despite the huge chip on his shoulder, and Joe Barksdale has been disappointingly bad. Orlando Franklin does not deserve a starting spot and makes too much money to be a backup, so look for an O-Lineman to be drafted somewhere on day 2. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a Tackle on day one, and a Guard on day 2. In all honesty, that’s probably what I’d do.
DE: Joey Bosa
NT: Brandon Mebane
Is this really a question? Could also see an NT picked up on day 2.
DT: Corey Liuget
He’s getting paid and would be expensive to cut, so he’s going to start.
OLB: Melvin Ingram, Kyle Emanuel
Ingram is about to get paid really well. Kyle Emanuel hasn’t been terrible this season, but it is still weird that he was starting over the arguably more exciting and effective Jerry Attaochu. This is now a moot point considering Jerry Attaochu is out for the season with an injury.
ILB: Jatavis Brown, Denzel Perryman
This is a huge position of strength for the Chargers. When you see Jatavis Brown, think of the ILB version of Dak Prescott. Denzel Perryman is a baller too and has the swagger to match. Having Korey Toomer hopefully be re-signed and Joshua Perry behind them, this position is stacked.
CB: Jason Verrett, Casey Hayward
Both are ballhawks. Both are considered near the top of their positions, and both are going to start for the Chargers next season. Casey Hayward leads the league in INTs this year. Can you imagine if Verrett was out there instead of the terrible tandem of Brandon Flowers and Craig Mager?
SS: Jahleel Addae
He’s going to get a contract, and he’s going to start. This team likes him, and I honestly can’t blame them.
FS: To Be Determined
I hope that the Chargers throw Dwight Lowery on the bench and pick up someone good for next season. If you make the argument that he had an INT in the last game, you need to go back and watch the play. I would have had that pick if I was playing FS on that play too.
Punter: Drew Kaser
He’s been either really, really good... or really, really bad. He’s evened it out over the last few weeks and has a really strong leg. No reason to expect him not to be back next season.
Kicker: Josh Lambo
He is low-key really good. Completely under appreciated outside the Chargers.
Holder: Drew Kaser
I don’t see Clemens coming back next season, and Kaser is slowly earning back the trust of the coaches. If you don’t think this will happen, look at how they put Travis Benjamin back at Punt Returner after muffing punts.
The most perplexing position in football, this person actually takes a spot on a roster. I get that it’s different from being a Center, but can Matt Slauson not do this job too? [Editor’s Note: No, he can’t.]
KR: Isaiah Burse
He’ll probably be re-signed as the #5 receiver for the Chargers, and is easily the best returner the Chargers have had this season, outside of Dexter McCluster (but either side can be argued).
In the next part, I’m going to break down why the Chargers will be scary next season.