2022 Roster Thoughts - 1 Week Into Free Agency

Seems like the dust has settled a bit on the opening frenzy of free agency. Time for another update.

This is the third post in this series; here are the others:

  1. 2022 Roster Thoughts - Entering Offseason
  2. 2022 Roster Thoughts - Entering Free Agency

Recent Moves

Since my previous post 8 days ago, the Chargers have made a number of moves:

  1. Restructured the contract of Edge Khalil Mack to clear $9M in 2022 cap space
  2. Signed external UFA CB JC Jackson to a contract with a very reasonable 2022 cap hit of $8M
  3. Signed external UFA IDL Sebastian Joseph-Day
  4. Signed external UFA IDL Austin Johnson
  5. Signed internal UFA IDL Christian Covington
  6. Signed internal UFA QB Chase Daniel
  7. Signed internal UFA PK Dustin Hopkins
  8. Signed external UFA LS Josh Harris
  9. Released veteran RT Bryan Bulaga to clear $10.7M in 2022 cap space

We have also seen a couple of internal UFAs sign with other teams:

  1. Internal UFA Edge Uchenna Nwosu signed with Seattle
  2. Internal UFA IDL Justin Jones signed with Chicago

In general, I like these moves. In my last post, I predicted:

  • Bulaga's release (though it was obvious to everyone that was coming)
  • Daniel and Hopkins re-signing
  • At least 2 new IDL players, including at least one external veteran free agent, and at least 1 internal IDL player re-signing
    • I figured the internal would be Jones, not Covington, but I assume Covington was cheaper, and that may have mattered due to the other free agent moves
  • An external free agent CB1
  • I also mentioned in the comments that I thought they could restructure Mack's contract to clear space

Not bad.

I missed on Edge Nwosu, who I still wanted after the Mack trade, if the team could fit him in... but I even admitted in my last post I thought he was a long shot to return after the trade:

I'm probably going to miss on a few of these players, since it seems surprising to think the team would bring back 15 internal free agents, especially given all of the draft picks and cap space available this offseason. Nwosu seems the most likely candidate for me to be wrong about.

I also missed on IDL Jones, but addressed him above. I was never as enamored with Jones as many posters here, I had just figured he was the best of a poor lot and thus would likely be back. I'm optimistic that Johnson and Joseph-Day will be better choices, even given likely higher cap hits.

Roster Exclusions

The Chargers currently have 56 players under contract for 2022. I am going to go ahead and apply the most of the same roster exclusions as in my previous post:

  1. WR Bandy
  2. Edge Brown
  3. LB Christiansen
  4. IDL Davis
  5. S DeLuca
  6. LB Egbule
  7. IDL Fehoko
  8. WR Ffrench
  9. CB Hall
  10. G Hunter
  11. TE Kampmoyer
  12. LB Lloyd
  13. IDL Merrill
  14. WR Moore
  15. WR Reed
  16. RB Rountree
  17. T Sarell

I think these players are offseason/camp fodder and/or will be beaten out. So I do not expect them to make the final 2021 roster and will exclude them from my final roster projection in this post.

The one player I removed from this list in my previous post is LB Ogbongbemiga. Since it is looking less likely that LB White will return, I think that clears a roster spot for Ogbongbemiga, who seems to be well liked by Staley and the coaching staff, despite no evidence to date of why in his play on the field.

The one player I added is IDL Fehoko. The Chargers signing Johnson, Joseph-Day, and Covington means either Gaziano or Fehoko seem much less likely to make the final roster, and I think Gaziano is better and thus give him the edge in that competition.

(I'm assuming Tillery is a lock to make it, since the team would only save about $900K in 2022 cap space by releasing him. I assume they will prefer to stick with him in case he can finally unlock more potential in his second season under Staley).

That leaves 40 core players at this time.

Draft Picks

Repeating this section verbatim from my previous post.

Per OTC, the Chargers are currently set to have these 2021 draft picks, a few of which moved slightly from my previous post when the NFL officially announced compensatory picks:

  1. 1.17 (17)
  2. 3.15 (79)
  3. 4.18 (123)
  4. 5.17 (160)
  5. 6.16 (196)
  6. 6.37 (215) - compensatory pick
  7. 7.15 (236)
  8. 7.34 (254) - compensatory pick
  9. 7.35 (255) - compensatory pick
  10. 7.37 (260) - compensatory pick

For purposes of this post, I assume the team will not make any additional trades involving draft picks and will use all of these picks, although this might actually be a year where trading picks makes more sense than in the past, given the high number of picks.

For example, I would love to think the team could trade back a few spots in the first round and pick up a second round pick to replace the one traded for Mack, perhaps bundling 1-2 of the 6th and/or 7th round picks to do it. But I'm not going to assume that, since Telesco has never traded back, only up.

I suppose a trade up could work if the team gave up its 3rd round pick and a 6th to move into the 2nd. But I'm not smart enough about draft pick valuation to know if there is any real viable trade up scenario that would likely appeal to the Chargers and any prospective trade partner. So I'm assuming no more trades for purposes of this exercise.

I think only 2 players Telesco has drafted since 2015 failed to make the final roster in their first season, and both were injured -- Dylan Cantrell and Donovan Clark. I don't see that trend continuing in 2022. I am going to guess that only 8 of 10 picks (if all picks are actually made) will make it. The others might make the practice squad, but I'm not attempting to predict the practice squad here.

For purposes of projecting cap space, I will take the most conservative approach and assume the bottom 2 picks are the ones that don't make it.

Internal Free Agents

In my previous posts, I predicted the team would re-sign these internal free agents:

  1. WR Williams - re-signed
  2. WR Guyton - re-signed
  3. TE Parham - re-signed
  4. T Norton - re-signed
  5. QB Daniel - re-signed
  6. PK Hopkins - re-signed
  7. G Schofield - TBD
  8. TE Anderson - TBD
  9. LB White - TBD
  10. C Quessenberry - wrong; signed with Houston
  11. Edge Nwosu - wrong; signed with Seattle
  12. IDL Jones - wrong; signed with Chicago
  13. LS Overton - wrong; replaced with Harris

I also initially predicted re-signing RB Jackson and KR/WR Roberts, but proposed in my last post to address that in the draft by taking a player who would push both of them off the roster.

I predicted the team would not re-sign these internal free agents, and they have not signed any of them so far, with the exception of Covington:

  1. TE Cook
  2. RG Aboushi
  3. G Kelemete
  4. Edge Fackrell
  5. IDL Joseph
  6. IDL Covington - wrong; re-signed
  7. CB Harris
  8. CB Smith
  9. S Marshall
  10. P Long

I haven't changed my opinion about the others.

Working Roster

Note, I have not seen Austin Johnson's contract details posted anywhere. He reportedly signed a 2 year, $14M contract. I am going to guess it is something like this:

  • $6M signing bonus
  • $2M 2022 salary = $5M 2022 cap hit
  • $6M 2023 salary = $9M 2022 cap hit

With that, here are the 40 players and 8 draft picks that make up my core working roster IMO, along with their cap hits from OTC (other than Johnson):

Pos Player Cap Number
Edge Joey Bosa $28,250,000
WR Keenan Allen $19,200,000
WR Mike Williams $14,000,000
C Corey Linsley $11,600,000
CB Michael Davis $9,375,000
S Derwin James $9,052,000
Edge Khalil Mack $8,750,000
CB J.C. Jackson $8,000,000
LG Matt Feiler $7,500,000
QB Justin Herbert $7,248,751
RB Austin Ekeler $7,000,000
IDL Austin Johnson $5,000,000 *
IDL Sebastian Joseph-Day $5,000,000
LT Rashawn Slater $3,779,945
IDL Jerry Tillery $3,634,323
LB Kenneth Murray $3,538,621
Draft Pick 1.17 (17) $3,031,473 **
S Nasir Adderley $2,905,384
LB Drue Tranquill $2,704,702
QB Chase Daniel $2,000,000
PK Dustin Hopkins $1,920,000
CB Asante Samuel Jr. $1,641,579
LS Josh Harris $1,320,000
T Trey Pipkins $1,184,269
WR Josh Palmer $1,143,649
RB Joshua Kelley $1,090,086
TE Tre' McKitty $1,087,693
QB Easton Stick $1,034,655
Edge Chris Rumph II $1,013,385
Draft Pick 3.15 (79) $1,004,435 **
CB Tevaughn Campbell $965,000
WR Jalen Guyton $965,000
S Alohi Gilman $941,969
Draft Pick 4.18 (122) $921,893 **
G Brenden Jaimes $904,449
IDL Joe Gaziano $895,000
FB Gabe Nabers $895,000
T Storm Norton $895,000
TE Donald Parham $895,000
LB Nick Niemann $878,502
S Mark Webb $850,022
LB Amen Ogbongbemiga $830,000
Draft Pick 5.17 (160) $798,852 **
Draft Pick 6.16 (194) $756,780 **
Draft Pick 6.37 (215) $743,853 **
Draft Pick 7.15 (234) $734,332 **
Draft Pick 7.34 (253) $727,665 **
Total $188,608,267

(Thanks to @Il Duce for pointing out my error in failing to remove Mack's initial salary!)

Working Roster Breakdown

The core working roster of 40 veteran players (i.e., players under contract less exclusions) looks like this:

Offense (18):

  • QB (3) - Herbert, Daniel, Stick
  • RB (2) - Ekeler, Kelley
  • FB (1) - Nabers
  • WR (4) - Allen, Williams, Guyton, Palmer
  • TE (2) - Parham, McKitty
  • OL (6) - LT Slater, LG Feiler, C Linsley, T Norton, T Pipkins, G Jaimes

Defense (20):

  • Edge (3) - Bosa, Mack, Rumph
  • IDL (5) - Johnson, Joseph-Day, Tillery, Gaziano, Covington
  • LB (4) - Tranquill, Murray, Ogbongbemiga, Niemann
  • CB (4) - Jackson, Davis, Samuel, Campbell
  • S (4) - James, Adderley, Gilman, Webb

Special Teams (2):

  • PK (1) - Hopkins
  • P (0) -
  • LS (1) - Harris

Still a lot of work to do, with needs remaining at:

  • OL (starting + depth)
  • TE (starting + depth)
  • RB (depth)
  • WR (depth)
  • LB (starting?)
  • Edge (depth)
  • CB (depth)
  • P (starting)
  • KR (starting)

That is a need for about 12-13 players, which fits perfectly into the roster plan as additions to the core 40 veteran working roster. Assuming 8 of them are rookies, that implies signing 5 more free agents, perhaps including some of the internal free agents I predicted previously (i.e., LB White, G Schoefield, TE Anderson).

Functional Salary Cap Space

Now, taking everything posted above into account, I can determine an estimate of the team's functionally availble cap space based on these facts and assumptions:

Do the math, and that leaves $19,966,600 in available 2022 cap space to sign 5 more free agents. Telesco doesn't normally spend right to the max, so the working space might be more like $16M to $18M. Regardless, that is a great position to be in.

I think there is a good chance they will extend James' contract this offseason, which could lower his 2022 cap hit of $9M, freeing up more space. They could also consider extending Allen or restructuring Bosa's contract, though I think those moves are less likely. But they don't have to do any of those things to finalize a strong roster.

All of this seems to show they can bring back LB White if they want to. They also have enough to sign a veteran starting RT and TE1.


The defense looks significantly improved right now. The pass rush, run defense, and CB play should all be better. As things stand, LB is still a weakness, unless Murray turns his performance around. Depth also remains an issue, at least at Edge, unless Rumph takes a big step forward.

There is still a lot to do on offense, as mentioned earlier.

The draft should help with some of this, but they definitely still need a handful more veterans.

As usual, I probably made a few mistakes in this post, but I want to get it posted to stimulate some good discussion.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Bolts From The Blue community and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bolts From The Blue editors or SB Nation.