As we discussed in my previous post, the Chargers have some serious fat to trim in order to prepare themselves for free agency in a few weeks. Of course, before they get to the open free agency period, they must also tend to their in-house unrestricted and restricted free agents, franchise and transition tags, and possibly discuss an extension for one of their young players.
As it stands right now, Los Angeles has 26 players set to become either restricted, exclusive rights, or unrestricted free agents at 4:00 p.m. EST on March 7. There are some big names and key contributors on this list, but there are also several non-descript, expendable players who are likely to be cut loose.
For the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on the four unrestricted free agents I fully expect the Chargers to retain. We’ll talk about why the Chargers will keep them, what I would do, what kind of contract they can expect, and their probability of being retained.
Let’s get started…
I’m convinced the Chargers will re-sign Ingram even though I don’t think it’s a smart move to hand him $35M guaranteed, and they’ll do it for all the lazy, clichéd “reasons” fans have been throwing around. Reasons like; he’s entering his prime, they don’t have anyone else in house they need to pay in the next two years, they don’t want to have to replace him in the draft, and, my personal favorite; the deal he gets “won’t seem so bad in a couple years after cap inflation”. Yeah, that’s pretty much the level of analysis we can expect from this front office.
Personally, I would take a more calculated approach with Melvin in that I would use the team’s non-exclusive franchise tag to buy myself one more year to evaluate him. Why? Because it comes with a 1-year price tag of $16M, it allows him to test the market while protecting the team’s interest, and it might net the Chargers two first round picks if another team wants him badly enough. But mostly because I have reservations about Ingram checking out after he gets paid.
Projected market value: 5 years, $70M, $35M guaranteed
Probability of being retained: 70%
There is no doubt in my mind the Chargers will re-sign Jahleel Addae for several reasons. In no particular order, those reasons are; he is one of Tom Telesco’s pet projects, they think he’s intimidating, they won’t be inclined to spend big money on a FA safety, they think he’s on the verge of stardom (they’re wrong), and they look at their depth chart and see quality depth (wrong again). All this adds up to the Chargers re-investing in their own when they should be copping to a mistake.
If you couldn’t tell by the commentary above, I would let Addae walk and look to replace him in the draft with one of several day 2 safety prospects. The fact is, Addae is reckless, fundamentally flawed and, thanks to his recklessness, he’s mostly unavailable (injured too much). I’m done with this experiment and the Chargers should be, too.
Projected Market Value: 3 years, $15M, $5M GTD
Probability of being retained: 85%
Square has proven himself to be a valuable member of the defensive line rotation and only got better with increased snaps in 2016, which is why I fully expect the Chargers to re-sign him. It isn’t a stretch to suggest he could thrive playing 3-technique in Gus Bradley’s scheme and could be in line to replace Corey Liuget in 2018 if his play doesn’t improve dramatically.
This is one scenario in which my plan and the Chargers’ likely plan intersect. I would keep Square and challenge him by throwing as much at him as possible in terms of his role. The good news is, he shouldn’t be terribly expensive and may be the only player on this list capable of outperforming his new contract by the time it’s done.
Market Value: 3 years/$4.5M/$600K GTD
Probability of being retained: 90%
Mike Windt is pretty much a lock to get re-signed. He shouldn’t command much in the way of length of deal, total dollars or guaranteed money and, as we all know, Tom Telesco has been hell-bent on improving the special teams for three years. I can’t imagine Telesco letting the one reliable part of his special teams walk in free agency even if it’s probably time to start planning for life after Windt.
This is one player I don’t feel too strongly about one-way-or-the-other. A compelling case can be made for stability in the kicking game with a pair of young, fragile kickers on the roster, but so, too can the case be made for getting younger and less expensive at the position with an undrafted free agent. That said, I made the call to let him walk on the Lightning Round podcast, so I’ll stick with that here.
Projected market value: $3 years, $5M, $1.5M GTD
Probability of being retained: 90%
Before you ask; no, I didn’t forget to include Danny Woodhead. He and a few others will be covered in my next post, which will cover players I don’t expect to be retained. I know, it’s unthinkable…unless, of course, you’re looking at the big picture. But we’ll get to that later.
Those are the unrestricted free agents I think the Chargers will retain heading into 2017. Personally, I wouldn’t pay either Melvin Ingram or Jahleel Addae what they’re due to make because I’m not convinced they’ve earned it, but I suspect both decisions are foregone conclusions. Conversely, I think both Square and
Binn Windt could outperform their contractual value (especially Square), and deserve to be re-signed.
Thanks for reading and please keep an eye out for my next off-season piece – Four internal unrestricted free agents the Chargers won’t re-sign.
Let me know what you think in the comment section…