Chargers 2023 Roster Thoughts: Post-Draft

Here is a list of my posts this offseason:

Now that the draft is over, I want to revisit the roster and salary cap situation. I realize this format is somewhat repetitive of some of my other posts, just wanting to update all of the data to current.

Working Roster

The Chargers currently have 63 players under contract for 2023, plus their 7 draft picks. This does not include the 18 UDFAs they just signed yesterday, meaning they currently have 88 players to enter training camp.

I don't think any of the UDFAs or any of these players currently under contract will make the final roster:

  1. G Zack Bailey
  2. WR Keelan Doss
  3. CB Kemon Hall
  4. WR John Hightower
  5. IDL Christopher Hinton
  6. PK Dustin Hopkins
  7. CB Michael Jacquet
  8. TE Hunter Kampmoyer
  9. Edge Carlo Kemp
  10. S Raheem Layne
  11. ILB Damon Lloyd
  12. ILB Tyreek Maddox-Williams
  13. IDL David Moa
  14. T Austen Pleasants
  15. RB Larry Rountree III
  16. Edge Ty Shelby
  17. TE Stone Smartt
  18. T Andrew Trainer
  19. C Isaac Weaver
  20. S Mark Webb

Obviously, I am projecting that Dicker will win the PK competition. I covered why I would have chosen Dicker and released Hopkins pretty thoroughly in my March 5 fan post linked above.

Layne or Webb will make the final roster if the team does not sign a veteran free agent to start at safety, but I anticipate they will sign John Johnson. It is possible I might have to revisit a couple of these others. More on that later.

I assume all of these players other than Hopkins will be practice squad candidates, as will some of the UDFAs. The team can only have 16 players on the practice squad, though.

That leaves me with 50 players I expect to make the final roster, barring injuries. Here they are, along with their cap hits from Over the Cap:

Note that OTC doesn't have the draft pick salaries correct yet, since they are not signed. For the draft picks, I used the OTC draft pick estimated salaries.

For now, I am projecting all 7 draft picks to make the final roster. This creates a bit of a roster crunch on offense. I'll get to that.

That leaves 3 final roster spots to be used for free agents. I don't know if that will be enough.

Roster Breakdown

Positionally, that group of 50 players is broken down below (projected starters bolded).

Offense (25):

  • QB (3) - Herbert, Stick, Duggan (R)
  • RB (3) - Ekeler, Kelley, Spiller
  • FB (1) - Horvath
  • WR (6) - Allen, Williams, Palmer, Johnston (R), Guyton, Davis (R)
  • TE (3) - Everett, Parham, McKitty
  • OL (9) - LT Slater, LG Johnson, C Linsley, RG Salyer, RT Pipkins, C Clapp, G Jaimes, T Sarell, OL McFadden (R)

Defense (22):

  • Edge (4) - Bosa, Mack, Tuipulotu (R), Rumph
  • IDL (5) - Fox, Johnson, Joseph-Day, Ogbonnia, Matlock (R)
  • ILB (5) - Kendricks, Murray, Hensley (R), Niemann, Ogbongbemiga
  • CB (5) - Davis, Samuel, Jackson, Taylor, Leonard
  • S (3) - James, Gilman, Woods

Special Teams (3):

  • PK (1) - Dicker
  • P (1) - Scott
  • LS (1) - Harris

At first glance, this roster is obviously short a few positions on defense.

  1. I only bolded 10 starters, with James as the only starting safety. I assume the team will sign veteran free agent John Johnson to start. If they don't sign a veteran free agent, I think Layne or Webb would make the final roster and Gilman would start, at least to open the season.
  2. IMO it is ideal to have 6 IDL players, especially given Johnson and Ogbonnia are coming off knee injuries and Matlock is a 6th round rookie. Could Hinton or Moa actually make the final roster? I think it is more likely the team will sign a veteran free agent, perhaps Christian Covington. Either way, this will be a weak position group.
  3. With uncertainty around Jackson's recovery, the team definitely needs another corner. I expect a veteran free agent to be signed, and I'm hoping for the return of Callahan.

But there are issues on offense as well.

  1. I am forced to assume the team will again have 3 QBs on the active roster. I don't agree with it, but I expect it.
  2. This roster includes only 3 RBs. They had 4 on the active roster all of last season, in addition to FB Horvath. IMO having 3 QBs and 6 WRs will force their hand to stick with 4 RB/FBs, so I think it will be the 4 I have identified.
  3. This roster includes only 3 TEs. I was very surprised the team did not address this position group in the draft. As constituted, this group seems thin, given that Parham has been challenged to stay healthy and McKitty has been challenged to actually play well. I cannot believe Kampmoyer is the answer since the team bypassed him to sign Richard Rodgers when Parham was hurt last season. And Smartt is a converted QB... I don't see him as the answer, either. Will they really enter the season with just the 3 TEs I have listed, or will they sign another free agent?
  4. If they do decide to carry 4 TEs, do they carry 26 players on offense? I doubt it. Do they cut Guyton? I hope not. Do they break down and send either Stick or Duggan to the practice squad? That's what I would do, but I'm skeptical. This will be very interesting to watch.

To summarize, IMO they still need to sign external free agents to fill 4 needs:

  • Starting safety
  • Top 3 caliber corner
  • Rotational IDL
  • Rotational TE, ideally a strong blocker

Incidentally, I don't see how there is room to re-sign Van Noy, as much as I like him. Unless the team intends to release or trade Murray or Rumph, and I would be extremely surprised at either of those and don't think either is likely.

Functional Cap Space

Here is the dead cap money that would be generated by the moves required to get to my projected roster:

Here are the cap charges associated with this projected roster:

I explained practice squad, practice squad activations, and in-season budget for injuries in my first offseason post linked above.

The team still has more moves it could make to clear cap space, such as:

  • Sign Davis to a contract extension
  • Sign Ekeler to a contract extension
  • Restructure Linsley's contract

Assuming they don't do anything to clear more cap space, they don't have a lot to work with at this point. Here is their current functional cap space:

Keep in mind, this is not accounting for 3 final roster spots. They have ~$6.6M to spend on those spots. That should be enough to add some quality veteran depth players.

Of course, some of this functional cap space may be consumed by Herbert's contract extension. If he gets a large signing bonus, his 2023 cap hit may increase. That is obviously a priority, and it could lead the team to be fairly conservative in spending its remaining 2023 cap space.

Note: I find it difficult to find accurate data on cap rollovers and adjustments. The 2022 rollover and adjustment figures used here are from Spotrac. I don't know what the adjustment is for, and I'm not confident these two figures are accurate, but it is the best data I have.


Thanks for reading. Thoughts? Let's discuss in the comments.

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.