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Chargers’ 2024 salary compliance just got $14,000,000 more complicated

The salary cap situation got a little more bleak for the Chargers this upcoming offseason

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

An already daunting task for the Chargers’ next general manager has gotten considerably more difficult, as projections have come out suggesting the cap will be approximately $14,000,000 shy of what OverTheCap had originally projected.

Cap savant Jason Fitzgerald posted this update explaining the recent corrections to the site’s cap projections. To summarize, Jason was under the impression (as many of us here are) that the new TV deal money should have kicked in by now to make up for the COVID-year shortfall, accelerating cap growth to reflect the monstrous revenue increases. His initial projection was for the cap to increase from $224,800,000 to $256,000,000, approximately 14% growth, a considerable jump from the trends we have seen over the last ten years.

Instead, multiple sources inside the NFL informed him the cap is expected to be around $242,000,000, $14,000,000 short of his initial estimates.

This isn’t a huge deal for most team as the cap can be reasonably manipulated if you’re signing new free agents or extending players, or even restructuring players with large cap hits on longer deals.

Most of the Chargers’ larger cap hits are on aging players in the last year or two of their contracts. Restructuring these players using void years is still possible, but if they aren’t extended or if they retire, the dead cap would accelerate to the year they depart (or the following year if the move happens post-June 1st).

The biggest hurdle this creates is the journey towards achieving cap compliance by the league new year. Since trades cannot be executed until after the league new year, the new general manager will have to clear approximately $41,000,000 in cap space using cuts, restructures, and extensions.

An extra $14,000,000 may not sound like much during this period, but $27,000,000 was a much more manageable figure to work with. The Chargers could have been cap compliant simply by cutting Mike Williams and letting Corey Linsley retire (or begrudgingly cutting him and letting him determine whether he’ll play again later). If they wanted to retain Mike and Corey, they could have cut Joey Bosa, Sebastian Joseph Day, and Eric Kendricks instead. Now, it’s almost guaranteed Mike and Corey will be gone, with one of the additional scenarios taking place:

  • Keenan Allen extended (saves over $14,000,000)
  • Khalil Mack extended (saves over $14,000,000)
  • Two of the following: Kendricks cut ($6,500,000), SJD cut ($7,500,000), Derwin restructured ($7,693,333)

Once a path is determined, the Chargers will have shed over $40,000,000 in cap space, but will still need to clear another $27,000,000 million to fill their roster, sign their draft picks, and have an in-season budget. This also doesn’t include the performance escalators for Asante Samuel Jr and Joshua Palmer, which Tau837 covered in his excellent FanPost going over the salary cap situation as it stood at the bye week.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Chargers have entered territory where their rookie draft budget will see volatility until the order is confirmed; the difference in Year One cap hits between the fourth overall pick and the tenth is $2,846,373.

More updates will be provided as we get closer to the offseason, but likelihood of the Chargers keeping two of their four previously restructured players got a bit slimmer this week. It’s more likely that all four will be cut, traded, or extended, with two of those moves happening before the new league year and two after. The difference between extending and trading the remaining two is approximately $7,000,000, a tempting figure for a player like Khalil Mack who’s coming off a career season and wants to play for a contender in 2024 if he doesn’t retire.

Below is an updated chart reflecting the various paths the Chargers could take towards cap-shedding.

What do you think, Bolts From the Blue? What cap-shedding moves do you want to see?