With the Chargers at 2-6, I'm starting to see more posts that are looking forward to 2021, so figured it was a good time to take a look at next season.
Here is the statement I used to open my first 2020 Chargers post:
Another disappointing season is in the books, so it's time to look forward to the offseason and try to generate some optimism that the Chargers will rebound back to playoff contender status in 2020.
Halfway through the 2020 season, this season doesn't seem much different. It's not quite as bad yet, since there are still 8 games to go and the QBOTF question is settled... but I was struck by the similarity when I looked back at that post.
Anyway, I will start by looking at the 35 players the Chargers currently have under contract for 2021, along with their cap hits from Over the Cap:
|CB||Chris Harris Jr.||$11,250,000|
I'm not convinced Norman, Bilal, or Johnson are likely to make the final 2021 roster, so I'm not going to include them in roster and cap projections in this post.
Next, I will estimate how much cap space the Chargers will have available in 2021.
- First, note that the 2021 salary cap floor is $175M, but it could be as high as $198.2M, depending on revenues. IMO the floor is the most likely outcome, so I'll use $175M as my starting point.
- Per Spotrac, at this time, the Chargers have $7,638,204 to roll over to 2021, with no other adjustments. I will assume that number holds.
- Per OTC, the total cap hit for the 32 players under contract for 2021 identified above, not including Norman, Bilal, or Johnson, is $149,757,044.
- Per Spotrac, at this time, the Chargers have just $58,008 in dead 2021 cap space.
- Accounting for all of that results in a total of $32,823,152 in available cap space.
- Per OTC, Justin Jones and Kyzir White are on track to qualify, so I am going to assume both do.
- This will increase both of their base salaries to the amount of the Right of First Refusal (ROFR) RFA tender, which is estimated to be $2.24M.
- That is an increase of more than $1.1M for each of them, taking a total of $2,262,855 in additional 2021 cap space.
- Subtracting that leaves $30,560,297 in remaining cap space.
- 3.34 - projected compensatory draft pick
- 6.25 - from King trade
- The current practice squad rules for 2021 allow teams to have 12 practice squad players. In 2020, the NFL increased that to 16 due to COVID, but I will assume that 2021 stays at 12.
- Depending on how many accrued seasons a PS player has, he earns either $9,200 or $14K per week. I'm going to assume the Chargers have a full practice squad of players without enough accrued games/seasons to qualify for the higher salary (i.e., all at $9,200 per week).
- However, the new CBA allows 2 PS players to be activated every week, and those players get paid at NFL minimum salary level. I will conservatively assume the Chargers activate 2 players for all 16 games. That means effectively 2 of the 12 PS player slots will cost $630,376 each (16/17ths of NFL 2021 minimum salary of $660K plus $9,200 for the bye week).
- Accounting for all of that results in a total cost of $2,824,753 for the practice squad. Subtracting that leaves $17,934,185 in remaining available cap space.
- QB - Taylor
- RB - Pope
- TE - Henry, Green, Anderson
- OL - C Pouncey, C/G Feeney, G Lamp, G Groy, G Toner, T Tevi, T St. Louis
- Edge - Ingram, Rochell, Lemonier
- IDL - Square
- LB - Perryman, Vigil, Jefferson
- CB - Davis, Facyson, Campbell
- S - Jenkins, Addae
- PK - Badgley
- P - Long
- Bulaga - 68.8 overall, which ranks #52 out of 120 graded tackles; 205 snaps
- Toner - 64.9 overall, which ranks #36 out of 122 graded guards; 166 snaps
- Norton - 62.0 overall, which ranks #77 out of 120 graded tackles; but on just 5 snaps
- Tevi - 58.7 overall, which ranks #93 out of 120 graded tackles; 600 snaps
- Groy - 57.7 overall, which ranks #77T out of 122 graded guards; 271 snaps
- Lamp - 51.3 overall, which ranks #97 out of 122 graded guards; 606 snaps
- Pipkins - 50.9 overall, which ranks #108 out of 120 graded tackles; 471 snaps
- Feeney - 50.0 overall, which ranks #40 out of 47 graded centers; 606 snaps
- Turner - 43.0 overall, which ranks #115 out of 122 graded guards; 81 snaps
- Quessenberry - 38.8 overall, which ranks #46 out of 47 graded centers; but on just 9 snaps
- St. Louis - 37.7 overall, which ranks #119 out of 122 graded guards; 80 snaps
- Bulaga has performed the best and has a contract that locks him in for 2021.
- Pipkins is not delivering on the potential that Telesco saw in him, but he will be back.
- Quessenberry showed potential in 2019 and is cheap, so he will be back.
- Turner is under contract, and the team gave up Okung to get him, but IMO he is going to have to come back soon and play really well to hold onto his roster spot. The team can release him this offseason with no dead money and clear $11.5M in cap space. Hard to predict at this point, but I'm going to assume he will be released.
- I assume Pouncey is gone, so Quessenberry is the only player under contract for 2021 who can play center. He doesn't have much experience, so hard to see the team counting on him to start. Feeney is not very good at center (or guard), but the team (read: Telesco and Lynn) seems to think more highly of him than I do, so I expect he'll be back for $3M or so to start at center.
- I think the team should move on from Lamp, but given that I predicted the release of Turner, I think they will re-sign him for $2M or so.
- Toner is a RFA, and I think the team will re-sign him for $1M or so.
- Groy is a UFA, but I think the team will re-sign him for $1M or so.
- Tevi is a UFA. Like Lamp and Feeney, the team seems to like him more than I do. I expect he will be back for $3M or so.
- Norton is cheap and will be back, but I expect he will end up on the practice squad, assuming Tevi is re-signed.
- The good news about my assumptions is that I am showing the team can re-sign Feeney, Lamp, Toner, Groy, and Tevi while saving ~$1.5M in cap space by releasing Turner.
- Henry - I assume Green is gone, which makes it even more important to re-sign Henry. Spotrac shows his market contract value as 4 years, $36M. Assuming the team signs Henry for something like that, I could see his 2021 cap hit as being as little as $4M... Hooper signed a slightly bigger contract last offseason, and his first year cap hit in 2020 is just $4M. I will be a bit more conservative and assume $5M in 2021.
- Rochell - he is a RFA, and I expect the team will re-sign him for $900K to $1M; I'll assume $1M.
- Davis - he is a UFA, and the team paid him $3.26M this season. I assume they will sign him to a multi-year deal and will hold his 2021 cap hit to $3M.
- Jenkins - he is a UFA, and the team paid him $2.3M this season. I assume they will sign him to a multi-year deal and will hold his 2021 cap hit to $3M.
- Badgley - he is a RFA, and he might be on the verge of getting replaced based on poor performance. But I can assume he is back as a placeholder; even if he is replaced, the cap hit is unlikely to change significantly. His cap hit this year is $750K. I think the team will re-sign him (or a similar replacement) for $1M or so.
- Long - he is a ERFA. He hasn't played well this season, but I assume he will be back for around $800K.
- QB (2) - Herbert, Stick
- RB (3) - Ekeler, Kelley, Jackson
- FB (1) - Nabers
- TE (2) - Henry, Parham
- WR (5) - Allen, Williams, Guyton, Reed, Hill
- OL (8) - LT Tevi, LG Lamp, C Feeney, RG Toner/Groy, RT Bulaga, C/G Quessenberry, G Toner/Groy, T Pipkins
- Edge (3) - Bosa, Nwosu, Rochell
- IDL (4) - Joseph, Tillery, Jones, Broughton
- LB (4) - Murray, Tranquill, White, Egbule
- CB (3) - Hayward, Davis, Harris
- S (4) - James, Jenkins, Adderley, Gilman
- PK (1) - Badgley
- P (1) - Long
- LS (1) - Mazza