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Chargers Mailbag 5/15/23: AFC West predictions, our deserted island food of choice, and more

What food of choice would YOU take to a deserted island?

LA Chargers KC Chiefs at SoFi Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Better late than ever!

A big shoutout to everyone who sent in questions. We did our best to answer the majority of them!

Let’s jump right in and see what burning questions you all were toiling away with!


What’s the cap situation now?

If you could bring in 1 FA (who could feasibly fit in the cap), who is it?

Michael: John Johnson III would be my selection. Derwin James can’t do everything on the back end and adding someone like Johnson to truly free up James to roam would be a huge boost for the defense as a whole.

Kyle: I think Tau did a perfect job of breaking down the current cap-scenario in his post-draft FanPost; I would definitely recommend checking that out. Our 2024 cap situation is currently a nightmare. If we assume 8% cap growth again (although I really think this should balloon at some point), and budget for $7,000,000 in-season, $3,000,000 for replacement costs when the 2024 rookie class is singed, and only $2,000,000 in roll-over budget from 2024, we are approximately $79,166,190 in the red. If there is interest, I could put together a separate post going over the various moves we could make to get under the cap, but definitely expect it to be a messy offseason in 2024. Regarding the free agent acquisition I would be seeking right now... I think John Johnson III is the obvious answer. I would have gone with Bryce Callahan on the UFA tender, but that ship has sailed, so either Tom doesn’t know how the UFA tender works or he values Bryce Callahan at or below the veteran minimum, which doesn’t make sense to me.


Question 1. If you were on a deserted island and only had one food to eat for the rest of your life, but you could make small modifications (Ex: vanilla ice cream, but you can change the toppings), what would it be?

Question 2. If you found a lamp with a genie that granted you any 3 wishes except for more wishes, what would they be?

Question 3. Since both Kyle and you are married, who are your “Hall Passes”?

Figured I would switch it up from the obligatory football stuff. Thanks.

Michael: Q1 - Chicken Wings. They’re extremely versatile which fits perfectly into this scenario. There’s also something so satisfying on a primitive level eating meat straight off the bone. Tacos are a close second.

Kyle: Q1 - Assuming it’s prepared correctly... sushi, all day. Tons of variety, never gets old, would taste even better on a deserted island. Q2 - Wish 1: Inspired by kevdiego, I would wish for my dad to be the owner of the Chargers and hire me as GM. Wish 2: To have enough money to buy and renovate my grandparents home in Carlsbad. Wish 3: To have a healthy family with my wife, consisting of two boys and a little girl... it’s the last stand for the DeDiminicantanio name over here. Q3 - My wife and I would playfully joke that it’s probably Jamie Foxx (this Youtube video is one of my favorites, the guy has TALENT). In reality, Jessica Beil since she starred in 7th Heaven and Natalie Portman since her SNL rap have been easy 1a and 1b’s for me.

Spanos Must Go

To your knowledge does the media ever try to interview Dean Spanos or John Spanos Jr. about the performance of the team? I find it very odd that they own and run (ruin) the team yet are for the money at part invisible. So many other owners, Chairmans, CEOs, have to provide access and answer the tough questions. As a fan base we get zero from either of them. 1-2 times per year we get Telesco avoiding the hard questions and nothing else.

It would seem that there should be much more pressure for them to answer questions and share their vision.

Michael: I guarantee if the media had the opportunity to interview them/ask questions, they would. While I haven’t been in and around the building, I get the sense their reclusiveness from the media is intended. If they know they’d likely get a plethora of tough questions, then I’m not surprised they aren’t jumping to get in front of a camera.

Kyle: I’m sure the media tries, but I don’t believe there is any requirement for owners to avail themselves to the media. If I had to venture a guess... the decades of stadium fighting in the public eye and the initial unwelcome response in LA has just soured Dean from even trying to step out in the public eye, but that’s purely speculative.

What do you guys know about the International Pathway’s player we just signed from Nigeria, Basil Chijioke Okoye?

Michael: We know as much as anyone knows from a quick Google search. He’s a former MVP of the 2022 NFL Africa camp and is seen as one of the most NFL-ready players from the IPP. After being labeled an offensive tackle, it looks like he’ll be working at defensive tackle for the Chargers. I actually think this is the better course of action for Okoye as he can focus more on being a disruptor at 6’6 and 315 pounds as opposed to being the guy who stops the disruptors, which is much harder in the NFL.

Kyle: Not much, other than he looks like a physical specimen and he doesn’t count as a roster spot, so there’s not risk to letting the guy come out and compete. However, if he is ever activated for a game, he will count as a roster spot on the active roster or practice squad for the remainder of the season. I would not expect to see him on the field in this upcoming regular season. I will do my best to do more research into the Pathway program to see if he will continue to count as a roster exemption in future years, and when we’ll have to ultimately make a decision on his future with the team.

Bolt Dawg #1

IF the Chargers finish with 7 wins or less this year. Do you think Staley will get fired and or also Tom Telesco??

Michael: I’ve always said that Tom Telesco seems to be on the hotter seat than Brandon Staley as of now. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them both go at the same time should the 2023 season fall drastically short of their lofty expectations. The first step was getting Justin Herbert in the playoffs. They achieved that in 2022. Now it’s time to get a playoff victory and actually make a push for a Super Bowl. If they are unable to make the playoffs this year, I could see ownership folding to heavy pressure from the fan base which could lead to them cleaning house.

Kyle: Yes, they probably would both be gone.... especially if the offense takes a step forward and Herbert develops a great relationship with Moore. Moore would be a great “interim” head coach for a new GM, should they hire another rookie GM and not want to saddle him with the HC hire, similar to Tom not being responsible for the McCoy hire.

**Whats your prediction for the W-L records and finish for the AFC West teams??

**And your predicted AFC Playoff teams for 2023??

*********Will Mortgage finance rates dip below 3.5%???

***Who will be the POTUS in 2024?? Just kidding...trying to stir the political pot...haha

Michael: Records - Chiefs 12-5, Chargers 10-7, Broncos 9-8, Raiders 7-10. Playoff teams w/ seeds - Chiefs, Jets, Bengals, Jaguars, Bills, Chargers, Ravens.

I’m not informed enough to touch either of those last two questions but I will say I don’t want anyone from the past, or currently in the White House, to be the winner in 2024.

Kyle: Records: LAC 12-5; KC 13-4; LV 6-11; DEN 7-10. Playoff teams, by seed: NYJ, CIN, KC, JAX, LAC, BUF, BAL. Mortgage rates - in what time frame? They won’t dip below 3.5% in the next two years, in my opinion... but I’m sure they will eventually. I’m not touching the presidential question!


What would it take to get Staley fired by the end of the season?

What would it take to get Staley an extension at the end of the season?

What would it take to get Telesco fired by the end of the season?

Can you envision any scenario where John Spanos takes a step back from football operations into a non-football role?

If Staley is fired at the end of the season, who will John Spanos hire to replace him? Who would you hire?

Michael: Missing the playoffs by a large margin would likely lead to a swift exit for Staley. Making the AFC championship should lead to an extension. Telesco would be gone in the same manner as what would cause Staley’s firing. I believe they go together if it all hits the fan.

Kyle: If Staley doesn’t make it past the divisional round with this roster, I think he could be fired. Next year will be a “reload” year regardless what happens this season, so Staley needs to show he’s the man this year, because the talent level should take a dip in 2024. Anything greater than that, and he’s likely getting an extension, as the Chargers don’t like having a contract-year HC in the building. Tom and Brandon are tied together. I don’t think John Spanos will ever step down, and can’t really predict who a replacement coach might be without knowing what the coaching market would look like, but I would hope we go with an offensive coach. At this point, I’d say “hell freezes over” happens before Tom trades back in the draft, but if Daniel Jeremiah were to replace him next offseason, I think we’d see much more aggressive trading.


1) Who’s your choice for UDFA making the team

2) What are your odds McFadden unseats Zion or Pipkins?

Michael: Brevin Allen, the edge rusher from Campbell. I think he’s got too much raw potential to not make the team at a rather shallow position on the roster.

I don’t think McFadden would get a shot at a starter barring some insane regression from both players. They’re your guys and they’ll get a decent leash this season.

Kyle: I think Jerrod Clark makes the initial 53-man because of Austin Johnson’s injury; there’s a good chance AJ starts on the PUP. If JC Jackson starts on the PUP as well, I think Tiawan Mullen is on the roster as well. Whether or not he starts, I think Mullen gets an accrued year this season with some activations, and by Year Two or Three is seen as one of our UDFA steals.


After the first round of free agency and the draft, does the prospective opening-game 2023 roster look better than the 2022 opening-game roster? I’ve got my thoughts. Would love to hear yours.

Michael: As of now, I don’t think the current 2023 roster looks better than last year’s opening day group. The lack of depth at linebacker and safety really hurt the defensive side for me and that’s enough to leave me less confident this year as opposed to this time a year ago.

Kyle: Absolutely not. Only linebacker and receiver could be seen as marginally better. Cornerback and safety lost solid starters (I know some aren’t fans of Nasir’s play, but at his worst he’s a solid depth piece we no longer have that hasn’t been replaced). That said, the addition of Moore and the Chargers’ volume and severity of injuries regressing to the mean should put a much better week-over-week product on the field.


If “today’s” Gerald Everett was in the draft where would he rank in comparison to this years class?

How do you feel about the running backs we currently have on the team and can they get it done?

Michael: I think Everett would be a day two pick, similar to where he was drafted (44th overall) before. He’s still a menace as a YAC threat and that’s still quite valuable in the NFL.

I’m not a fan of the running backs behind Austin Ekeler and will be waiting patiently to see any one of them show consistency when given the opportunity. Josh Kelley was great in his snaps and at times looked like he deserved more carries. We’ll see if Isaiah Spiller can take a step forward but Kelley is the guy right now behind Ekeler heading into training camp.

Kyle: I think Everett was a reach in the second round of the 2017. He’s just not a prototypical tight end that creates physical mismatches and boxes out linebackers and safeties to move the chains. He’s a solid number two with yards-after-catch upside. As such, I think his playstyle is what people project Darnell Washington to be, but with less physical upside. If Darnell stays healthy, I think Everett would slide in behind Darnell, Mayer, Kincaid, and LaPorta, but possibly rank higher than Schoonmaker. As far as running backs go, we are fine. Give Horvath a chance to be Zeke Elliot in Moore’s offense... you’d be surprised how similar their RAS scores and measurements are.

Buck Melanoma

What course of action can we as fans pursue to rid the Chargers of the Spanii?

Michael: I’ll leave this one to Kyle as a local.

Kyle: Petition the league to bring a team to San Diego, petition to have SD retain the rights to the Chargers and force the Spanos clan to rebrand? That’s the best I can think of!


Should we be concerned by Staley’s post draft comments about competition with the DB group, or assume they’re going to add a free agent or two to the room before camp?

Michael: I’d say take it with a grain of salt. He’s not immune to throwing out some coach speak but I would personally be surprised if the team did not add a veteran defensive back before training camp. Would seem awfully weird for Staley to enter camp with a lackluster group to work with. That wouldn’t be fun for him and after what he had to deal with in 2021 (massive injuries), I couldn’t see him being okay with it again.

Kyle: I’m less worried after seeing Tiawan Mullen’s tape, and I’ll probably be a broken record on this topic, and will end up with egg on my face. That said, I think he can step in to a rotational role as a “star” or “money” DB and do great, with some forgiveness offered for his rookie learning curve. An addition would never hurt though!


Sorry for the late question. Nonetheless...inquiring minds want to know - What is the real story behind Spiller? Do you know, or does anyone know, what was his problem last year, is it fixable, and will he really see play time this year? Usually it means injury (why not report it?), fumbling, cannot block, or inability to assimilate the play book. In any case, it seems to me this has a huge impact on the offense, and on the trade (or non-trade) of Ekeler.

Michael: I wish I had more information but it truly seemed like a combination of him not being as ready to contribute on top of a lackluster offensive line group. The Chargers were not a good run-blocking team and even when things were bad, none of the running backs outside of Ekeler could make something out of nothing. Spiller isn’t a fast back by any means. If he’s going to find success at the next level, Kellen Moore is going to have to find a way to scheme up a better run game, on top of the group staying healthy.

Kyle: They brought in Michel who has had a solid career, Kelley was looking good, and Ekeler stayed healthy. Additionally, they hadn’t given up on Rountree yet and were more pressed to see what they had in him. I don’t think there was a rush to get Spiller on the field, and he was initially drafted for his projection and not necessarily as a solution to 2023’s roster construction. That said, I didn’t like his combine testing from the get-go, but Tomlinson vouched for him before the Chargers drafted him, so I really hope he can still prove his worth. That said, I am more intrigued by what Horvath can do as a one-cut power runner than what Spiller has to offer... assuming Moore doesn’t like at Zander and declare, “He’s a tight end now.”