With free agency officially set to open tomorrow, Tuesday March 10th at 4 p.m. ET. exactly, NFL teams are preparing to sign some heavy hitters. Since last week, rumors and predictions have circulated as fans eagerly wait for what is set to unfold. As of right now, everything is all speculation which leaves Tom Telesco and the Chargers still in the hunt for big name players. Let’s stop there because the Bolts don’t sign big names.
It was nice to ponder the thought of free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh coming to a team with a tremendous need for a nose tackle, but it was all a fictional. An array of fans flooded social media when it was announced by NFL Media insider’s Ian Rapoport that Suh is being considered by the Chargers. What a tease. Bolt fans had to have known that names like his don’t ever come to San Diego. It is already looking like this year’s free agency signees won’t be anything like what A.J. Preller did in the Padres’ offseason. I would love to eat my words on that.
Well, wait a second. The previous back office has been gone for a few seasons now and this is the first year Telesco has had cap breathing room. Fans have been unable to determine what the young general manager is capable of, but most importantly, willing to do in order to build a Super Bowl contending team.
We all know what happened in recent years with some semi big name signings. Jared Gaither and Derek Cox are just a couple that did not live up to their contracts, to say the least. Is it the money or just the uncertainly that the back office feels the need to justify not snagging a big hitter via free agency? Either way, I believe starting tomorrow things may start to change.
There has to be some reasoning as to why big name players should not be chased. For example, it’s reported that Suh will sign with the Miami Dolphins for a 5-year, $114 million dollar contract, but should the Chargers spend a quarterback’s salary on a defensive tackle? It’s debatable, but not wise when the roster has many gaps yet to fill. Yes, Telesco finally has money to spend, but it shouldn’t be spent on a single big name guy.
In the most positive news yet to transpire, per Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union Tribune, free agent guard/tackle Orlando Franklin is set to join the Chargers. Seems as if strides are being made for big names. According to NFL Trade Rumors, Franklin is ranked 19th of 100 free agents in 2015 which gives him a presumable headliner label.
Last week, the Bolts added an explosive kick returner, Jacoby Jones, to the roster. In addition to him, Telesco then solidified the secondary by re-signing cornerback Brandon Flowers. These players may not be big names per say, but they add much-needed value to the organization.
It’s always been a stigma that the Chargers don’t sign heavy hitters via free agency. This offseason seems to be different, and things are progressing forward with player talent, rather regressing. Bolt fans should be hopeful with the leadership of Tom Telesco and company. In the next few weeks, his true colors will be exposed. I’m hopeful for bright and exuberant colors, opposed to the gloomy grays.
When it comes to researching article topics, I tend to go back through the archives of my website and look at ideas that I have had in years past. This morning, at 2:00 am, I ran across a scathing article I wrote about the laziness of former Charger offensive tackle Jared Gaither. I then remembered that he is still being paid by the Bolts in 2014.
He is not the only one.
Dead money contracts are those that count against the team’s salary cap despite the fact that the players are no longer on the squad. When I list the players that are still getting paid, I guarantee your blood will boil when you look at some of the names. The amounts of their pay will elevate that level of frustration, as well.
For the sake of this article, I am only going to include the players that are being paid over $100,000 without providing any services to the Chargers at all at this time. They are no longer with the team; in fact, a couple haven’t been on the team for over a year or two.
Let’s start at the bottom — lowest paid non-Chargers — and work our way up to the top, the highest paid.
DL – Lawrence Guy $100,588
WR – Vincent Brown $146,517
S – Brandon Taylor $168,469
CB – Brandon Ghee $185,000
RB – Shaun Draughn $201,176
LB – Jonas Mouton $218,340
DB – Richard Marshall $570,000
FB – Le’Ron McClain $833,334
LB – Larry English $865,000
WR – Robert Meachem $ 3,750,000
CB – Derek Cox $3,900,000
OT – Jared Gaither $4,000,000
Total amount of dead money from the aforementioned NON-CHARGERS: $14,938,424
Go ahead and let that sink in as you look at a Charger team that has been decimated by injuries. The same organization that was completely unable to make any moves prior to the trade deadline to supplement a beat-up roster. Thanks a lot, that one guy who used to be the GM here.
The total amount of dead money, including players that are not listed above, is $15,436,212.
When it comes to getting rid of and cutting poor performers or bad contracts, it’s a very difficult decision. But when a player is unable to contribute at a serviceable or acceptable level, the time to cut ties is necessary. Three of the top-four highest paid non-Bolts have played for other teams in 2014; Meachem, Cox and English. Robert Meachem is the only one that is currently on an NFL roster of those four.
Talk about a kick in the pants.
The last General Manager left Tom Telesco in a rough spot when it comes to navigating the roster and its lack of cap space. The 2015 season brings Telesco a much better opportunity to make some moves and re-sign some of his marquee players to long-term extensions; namely Philip Rivers and Eric Weddle.
Every team in the NFL has to deal with matters such as what is listed above. But it goes without saying that the Chargers were forced to make some tough decisions when cutting the players listed. But, perhaps, cutting non-performing players like Gaither, Cox, Meachem and English were actually simple decisions that came at a heavy price. At least a few of the players noted actually played for San Diego in 2014. The same can’t be said for some of the bums that made the list.
Thanks a lot for reading. Which of these players frustrated you the most due to the money they made without having contributed to the cause in 2014? Let me know by leaving your thoughts below in the comment section.
We all rave about the acquisitions made by Tom Telesco in his 18 or so months as Chargers’ GM. Picking up guys like Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown were popular moves among many fans. Draft picks like D.J. Fluker, Keenan Allen, Jason Verrett and Jerry Attaochu had fans applauding.
But what about the departures? The players Telesco let go are probably just as noteworthy as the players he signed as free agents or drafted. Here are my top five releases/non-signings over the past year and a half:
Top spot has to be Derek Cox. Cox was benched by Mike McCoy almost more than he saw playing time. He was awful, he was horrible. He got burned, embarrassed, humiliated, caught flat-footed and out of position so much you’d think he was a pee wee leaguer. Personally, I hated Derek Cox more than I hate the cable company bearing the same name.
Next up, none other than the “Big Lazy”, Jared Gaither. Yeah, he came in during the 2011 season and pulled enough wool over A.J. Smith’s eyes as a savior at left tackle to get a stupid contract. Surprisingly, he spent more of 2012 “hurt” than he did suiting up. Apparently, the meeting Telesco had with Gaither before training camp went so well, Telesco decided cutting Gaither was worth the cap pain that would inflict.
The second spot was really a toss-up between Gaither and Robert Meacham. Wow, epic bust. He was a #3 or #4 on the New Orleans depth chart, brought in to be #2 behind Malcolm Floyd. Nobody ever will mistake Meacham for Vincent Jackson. He was such a bust, he even found himself in Norv Turner’s dog house and hardly saw playing time the second half of the season.
In this spot, Clipboard Jesus. A.J. lets this guy go to Seattle to try and be a starter, which failed miserably. So what does he do? Bring him back again to carry Philip Rivers’ water bottle and jock strap. In Charlie’s defense, why would he turn down the contract A.J. offered? Dude made some good money to stay clean, wear a baseball cap and hold a clipboard.
Lastly, we have Takeo Spikes. I liked this guy. He played hard, he worked hard, he was a leader and a mentor for the younger guys, but he’d lost a couple of steps. Defense had to get younger, and Takeo, having seen better days, needed to be released.
There are others, of course, but these are the most notable non-moves/releases from where I sit.
When I first decided to do this post, I had planned on writing my thoughts on the former Chargers that are listed below and what they are doing now. I have since changed my mind due to reading those names below and becoming incredibly angry at that money being paid to players that are no longer on the team. So instead, I’m just going to leave this chart here ( credit to overcap.com ) and go look at some of the free agents that were signed by other teams.
Every team, every year, has dead money on the books from players that have been released, waived or cut. But when you look at a team that overachieved in 2013, to think about being able to add a few key free agents would have been a great momentum-builder going into May’s draft.
I am not, by any means, suggesting that the Chargers should have gone on a spending spree. I am ecstatic with what Tom Telesco has done with so little room under the salary cap.
I am not sure that we will see much more activity in free agency, but I do know that I have complete faith in what Telesco is doing. I also know that I am certainly looking forward to watching it all unfold.
It seems lately that everything I read or see about D.J. Fluker has me smiling and nodding my head “YES.” I will admit that when he was drafted I was a little underwhelmed. Since then, D.J. Fluker has said, and more importantly, done all the right things.
In recent interviews he has said he wants to have a “Ray Lewis” role on this team. Being a vocal, positive leader for the team on the field. He has said he wants to be a leader on the team from day one. He broke down the team multiple times during OTA’s and Mini-Camp.
Now I find the above picture, thanks to my friends over at boltbeat.com. All I can say is WOW. When you compare that to pictures of Jared Gaither, it is like night and day. Hearing stories of how lazy Gaither was in the gym, then seeing this you know Fluker doesn’t skip one second in the gym, let alone a day, week, month like “Big Lazy.”
Seeing an offensive lineman in this kind of shape gives me hope in so many ways. When you are in this good of shape, you have less of a chance of minor injury. Also trimming some weight from the combine and when he was drafted should help him slide faster and mirror the speed rushers like Von Miller. Being that strong will also help him make up for lack of speed. It also speaks to his dedication to this team and the game. He is showing that he is putting in a LOT of extra time into getting better for this team.
Once again Fluker has given me a reason to smile and nod my head in approval. I know being a work out warrior doesn’t always translate to the field, but it sure doesn’t hurt. It shows that he is dedicated to this team. It shows he wants to be a good example. It shows he is taking his responsibilities seriously. And to me, it shows that he intends to prove he is worth his first round draft position.
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In a report by Michael Gehlken of UT San Diego, the Chargers have told Jared Gaither that he will be released.
Gaither has been a complete mess since his stellar signing at the end of the 2011 season. Big Lazy will no longer be San Diego’s problem.
When I interviewed Kevin Acee in December outside of Qualcomm Stadium, he guaranteed me that Gaither would not be a Charger in 2013. I have to admit that when Tom Telesco came out and said that “every player would have a clean slate,” I got a little nervous in regards to Gaither remaining with the team.
Props go out to Kevin for nailing this months ago.
Quite frankly, I am glad to be rid of him. He was a HUGE locker room issue. Another topic that was covered when I talked with Acee.
Good riddance Jared.
Thanks a lot for reading.