The 2015 offseason was anything but enjoyable for Chargers fans. We here at BoltBlitz.com had covered all of the new stadium/relocation to Los Angeles talk, possible pre-draft trade of Philip Rivers, the unwillingness of the organization to work out a contract extension with Eric Weddle and the suspension of Antonio Gates.
It was all quite exhausting.
One of the things that bothered me the most, in addition to the aforementioned issues, was the fact that there are a large number of Chargers on the 2015 squad that are not under contract for next season, including Weddle, Gates, Floyd and Green.
After doing a little research, my fears were heightened when seeing the plethora of quality names who do not have deals for 2016.
Here are the explanations of each free-agent designation and other information you’ll need to understand about free agency.
Accrued season = Six or more regular-season games on a club’s active/inactive, reserved/injured or reserve/physically unable to perform lists.
Franchise player (exclusive or nonexclusive) = The salary offer by a player’s club determines what type of franchise player he is: exclusive or non-exclusive.
An “exclusive” Franchise Player — not free to sign with another club — is offered the greater of (i) the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the current year as of the end of the Restricted Free Agent Signing Period on April 19; or (ii) the amount of the Required Tender for a non-exclusive franchise player, as explained below.
Article 10, Section 2(a)(i) of the CBA sets forth the methodology, known as the “Cap Percentage Average,” for calculating the Required Tender for such a player:
The Nonexclusive Franchise Tender shall be a one year NFL Player Contract for (A) the average of the five largest Prior Year Salaries for players at the position . . . at which the Franchise Player participated in the most plays during the prior League Year, which average shall be calculated by: (1) summing the amounts of the Franchise Tags for players at that position for the five preceding League Years; (2) dividing the resulting amount by the sum of the Salary Caps for the five preceding League Years…; and (3) multiplying the resulting percentage by the Salary Cap for the upcoming League Year…(the “Cap Percentage Average”)…; or (B) 120 percent of his Prior Year Salary, whichever is greater.
If a club extends a Required Tender to a “non-exclusive” Franchise Player pursuant to this section, the player shall be permitted to negotiate a player contract with any club, except that draft choice compensation of two first-round draft selections shall be made in the event he signs with a new club.
Transition player = A transition player has received a minimum offer of the average of the top 10 salaries of last season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater.
A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no compensation.
* Unrestricted free agent = A player with four or more Accrued Seasons whose contract has expired. He is free to sign with any club, with no draft choice compensation owed to his old club.
** Restricted free agent = He can negotiate with any club. If the Restricted Free Agent signs an offer sheet with a new club, his old club can match the offer and retain him because the qualifying offer entitles it to a “right of first refusal” on any offer sheet the player signs. If the old club does not match the offer, it may receive draft choice compensation depending on the amount of its qualifying offer. If an offer sheet is not executed, the player’s negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old club. In addition, a player who would otherwise be a Restricted Free Agent may be designated by his old club as its Franchise Player or Transition Player.
*** Exclusive rights free agent = Such a player has no more than two accrued seasons in the NFL and may only sign with his prior team, provided, of course, that the team extends a minimum qualifying offer to the player.
Here is a look at all of the Bolts that are in the final year of their contracts with the team, according to spotrac.com.
*UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:
- FS – Eric Weddle
- TE – Antonio Gates
- WR – Malcom Floyd
- RT – Joe Barksdale
- CB – Patrick Robinson
- QB – Kellen Clemens
- G – Johnnie Troutman
- DE – Kendall Reyes
- DL – Ricardo Mathews
- FB/TE – David Johnson
- TE – Ladarius Green
- OL – Chris Hairston
- TE – John Phillips
- C – J.D. Walton
**RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:
- SS – Jahleel Addae
- OL – Kenny Wiggins
*** EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS:
- WR – Dontrelle Inman
- OLB – Cordarro Law
- OL – Tyreek Burwell
When looking at the offensive side of the ball, the entire tight end group is not under contract for 2016. Although it would make sense to bring back Green, his concussion problems may prevent the team from doing so. Phillips is primarily a blocking tight end, but he made a few plays during the four-week absence of Gates. Speaking of Gates, it is hard to say whether or not the Chargers will be able to find a team-friendly deal should he decide to continue his NFL career.
At the wideout spot, Floyd has already stated that he will not be back next season, announcing that this year will be his last. Inman looks to be a prime candidate for being re-signed by the club. He is gaining the trust of Philip Rivers in the passing game. His blocking as a wide receiver in the running game is improving with each snap he receives.
Offensive linemen Joe Barksdale and Chris Hairston have started multiple games in 2015, with Barksdale slotted as the team’s starting right tackle. He will most likely be brought back depending on the direction Tom Telesco decides to go in the early rounds of the 2016 draft. Hairston provides sold depth and versatility, making him a possibility for a return to the Chargers. Guys like Kenny Wiggins and Tyreek Burwell could be re-signed to fairly low-salary numbers. Burwell would still have another year of eligibility on the practice squad. Recently signed J.D. Walton will have to impress when called upon to receive consideration for an eventual re-signing.
The defensive side of the ball is obviously highlighted by the last year under contract for Eric Weddle. The team has made it clear that there will be no contract talks prior to the beginning of the 2016 league year. It doesn’t necessarily seem as though the team is willing to pony up and re-sign him to the money he believes he is worth. There is always the option of the organization applying the franchise tag to Weddle, paying him a top-five salary at his position on a one-year deal. Quite frankly, I don’t see that happening.
Fellow defensive back Patrick Robinson has looked to be a solid acquisition this offseason. Due to injuries, he has been asked to start on the outside although his position as the nickel corner is ideal for his skill-set. If he can continue to make an impact, he should be worth a look to remain with the team beyond 2015. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was offered a deal during the middle of this season.
Former second-round draft pick Kendall Reyes has been a bit of a disappoint save his rookie campaign. Depending on the desired contract of the defensive end, he may be hard-pressed to stay with the club past this year. He has not provided a viable solution opposite of Corey Liuget on the defensive line. Liuget needs help upfront, and Reyes does not seem like the guy for the job.
Ricardo Mathews is one of the most versatile defensive lineman on the team. He can line up at multiple spots and his high motor is impressive for a man his size. He comes back for at least one more season, in my opinion.
The situation surrounding strong safety Jahleel Addae is very interesting. Because of a nasty looking injury where his leg appeared to fold in half, he has missed the majority of the snaps through four weeks, allowing Jimmy Wilson to start in his place. If Addae were to come back and make an impact, would the team be willing to make him a long-term offer? It is difficult to say at this point. Similar to Barksdale, a lot of his future with the Bolts could depend on what Telesco plans to do in the draft.
I am not sure if you are as frightened by the number of free agents for 2016 as I am. But it looks like the 2016 Chargers have the chance of looking quite a bit different than this year’s squad.
Thank you very much for reading.
It’s only the seventh day since the start of free agency, and Tom Telesco hasn’t stopped conducting business just yet. Today, wide receiver Stevie Johnson has signed a three-year contract with the Chargers, according to source.
After Eddie Royal signed a 3-year contract with the Chicago Bears last week, the Bolts found the need to find a replacement. Johnson brings size to the team’s receiving unit, standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing 207 pounds.
Johnson was selected out of Kentucky by the Buffalo Bills in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He finished his Bills career with 499 receptions, 3,832 yards, and 47 touchdowns during his six seasons with the team. Last year, he caught 35 passes for 435 yards with three touchdowns during his one season stint with the San Francisco 49ers.
The veteran wide receiver adds the catch-and-go ability to the receiving corps. With Philip Rivers now throwing to him, look for a lot more productivity out of the 8th year player.
This marks the fourth transaction made by Tom Telesco in a week. Orlando Franklin, Jacoby Jones, and Jimmy Wilson have all been locked up, while retaining King Dunlap, Brandon Flowers, Trevor Robinson, and Ricardo Mathews.
Please welcome, Stevie Johnson to the San Diego Chargers.
As if the secondary didn’t already look poised heading into the 2015 season, San Diego has added depth to the unit by signing former Miami Dolphin, defensive back Jimmy Wilson.
A native to San Diego and a Point Loma High School graduate, Wilson officially comes home to play for the team he grew up watching. In a recent interview with Chargers’ own Ricky Henne, Wilson stated “To have my name on the back of that Chargers’ jersey is a dream for every San Diego kid”.
He played his first four years in the NFL for the Dolphins before joining the Bolts. Wilson signed a 2-year, $4.85 million dollar contract with the team.
The team makes the transaction in the wake of former Charger, defensive back Marcus Gilchrist who recently signed a 4-year deal with the New York Jets.
Wilson has recorded a total of 153 combined tackles, 2 sacks, and 4 interceptions since entering the league in 2011. Last season, he started thirteen games with 58 combined tackles, a career high.
This marks the Chargers’ seventh free agent transaction in the free agency contest. The team so far has added guard Orlando Franklin (Denver) and return specialist Jacoby Jones (Baltimore). In addition, Tom Telesco has re-signed left tackle King Dunlap and defensive back Brandon Flowers, along with center Trevor Robinson and defensive end Ricardo Mathews.
Please welcome, Jimmy Wilson to the San Diego Chargers!
Since late last week, the social media buzz has been ringing nonstop. Trades, re-signings, and various pick-ups have stunned the NFL and have given fans an entertaining start to free agency 2015. For Charger fans, the frenzy started when left tackle King Dunlap was re-signed. Since then, multiple players have also resigned and or joined the Bolts.
Entering the 2015 season, it was made very clear that the Tome Telesco had the most cap space available since taking over as general manager. The adjusted salary cap for this year is $142.98 million, leaving roughly $30 million of the cap unused.
So far, Telesco has locked up a total of 6 players: King Dunlap, Brandon Flowers, Orlando Franklin, Jacoby Jones, Trevor Robinson, and Ricardo Mathews. Knowing now who has already been secured, there seems to be a burning question as to how much cap space is left after recent contracts.
King Dunlap’s signing brought the cap space down to about $25 million. Brandon Flowers signed a 4-year, $36 million deal bringing the cap space now to a little more than $20 million. Now, Orlando Franklin was the heavy hitter signed from the Denver Broncos to a 5-year, $36 million dollar contract which brings the cap to roughly $16 million. Let’s not forget Jacoby Jones who signed a 2-year, $5.5 million dollar incentive which makes the cap space in the ball park of $14-15 million. That’s four impact players all locked up for 2015, with funds still available.
The last two players that were re-signed are backup center Trevor Robinson who signed a 2-year, $4.25 million and playing-time bonuses. Defensive lineman Ricardo Mathews signed a one-year deal estimating around $1 million.
We must not overlook that there have been some players released to free up some cap space. The Chargers cut guard Chad Rinehart, saving the team $3.25 million. Inside linebacker Reggie Walker was also released a few days ago, saving $1 million against the salary cap. With all these recent transactions, San Diego’s cap space should be approximately be in $16-17 million range.
Free agency isn’t over yet. It’s actually far from it. Telesco is still actively searching for aptitude, not big numbered headliner players who eat up cap dollars. Remember, the culture has shifted to obtaining quality over quantity. Don’t expect names like Ndamukong Suh or Mike Iupati to wear a blue and gold uniform, but don’t hope for a player like Vince Wilfork. The biggest sore spot in 2014, the offensive, has already been tremendously been upgraded. Moving forward, Charger fans should not get discouraged for this is only the beginning. In addition to free agency mania, the NFL Draft will aid the team in fresh young talent. Due to the rookie wage scale, all draftees will not be detrimental to cap availability.
The Bolts still have some gaps to fill, but having available cap space is crucial to filling those voids. Tom Telesco and his back office staff are diligently, yet wisely playing a game of football chess. Carefully placing each pawn in the right place for the advantage to win in free agency. With roughly $17 million dollars left to play with, expect a lot more to come from the crafty general manager.
“Games are won and lost in the trenches.” How many times have we heard that from coaches and commentators alike? I think the 2014 Charger season proved that out.
A patchwork offensive line was tasked with protecting Philip Rivers, was not consistently effective. Too many times we saw #17 running for his proverbial life. The run game was terrible as well. The Chargers lost their anchor, Nick Hardwick early in the season and now for good with his expected retirement. A total of five men played at the center position. Johnny Troutman was awful. DJ Fluker’s inexperience at the professional level was exposed in his Sophomore season. Truth be told, I felt King Dunlap was the only bright spot along the front five.
The defensive front seven wasn’t a whole heck of a lot better. Donald Butler was invisible. The nose tackle by committee was a failure. Kendall Reyes seemed to regress. Pressure from the outside linebackers (pass rush specialists in a 3-4) weren’t helped by their teammates. Corey Liuget was the only consistent performer on the defensive side.
With the Free Agency period beginning on March 10, I’ve been going over the list of pending free agents and have compiled a wish list of whom I’d like to see Tom Telesco pursue. Also, I will look at who the casual fan clamors for and why I don’t see them in lightning bolts in 2015. This, of course, is without considering salary restraints.
On Defense, nose tackle is of particular concern to me. You may say that John Pagano ran a base 3-4 less than half the time. Perhaps because NT was a weak link? Sean Lissemore didn’t impress at all. Ryan Carrethers showed potential until he got hurt, but he needs seasoning. Ricardo Mathews is a serviceable sub, but the Chargers haven’t had a stud nose tackle since Jamal Williams. Personally, I think this is one position Tom Telesco needs to look over the free agent crop. Chargers can ill afford to have the front seven compromised by the nose being the weak link.
Should Denver not retain Terrence Knighton, he tops my list. He’s big, he’s quick and he’s strong. He can take on multiple blockers, which is what your NT needs to do. He’s durable, having started 16 games in four of his six NFL seasons. Dan Williams of the Arizona Cardinals is another. While his numbers (tackles and assists) don’t stack up to Knighton’s, he’s been a force in the middle of the Arizona defensive front. I don’t see Ndamukong Suh in lightning bolts at all. He’s a 4-3 defensive tackle, and I’m not convinced he can make the transition to a 3-4 NT. His inability to control of his temper concerns me as well.
A stud in the middle of the 3-4 has a ripple effect on the rest of the front seven as well, so this position is critical to the success of the Charger defense. Washington’s Danny Shelton looks impressive if they wait for the draft to fill the need at NT. Kid’s got a motor. If Tom Telesco doesn’t want a NT, then perhaps he, Mike McCoy and John Pagano should abandon the 3-4.
On the offensive side of the trenches, signing King Dunlap to a new deal was huge (no pun intended). He was rock solid protecting Philip Rivers’ blind side. As for the interior of the line, I’m really worried. Mike Iupati tops mosts lists. He’s a solid guard, he’s quick and he’s been durable for San Francisco. Denver’s Orlando Franklin is another solid possibility. Again, he’s durable and we all know that Denver’s line has been great in protecting Peyton Manning the last few years.
Depth can be filled in through the draft. The Bolts need to draft and groom for the future. Chris Watt will be better this year, having been forced into service with as a rookie. Fluker needs to improve his footwork and quickness if he’s going to continue to play right tackle. I focused on guards through free agency because all indications seem to point to Fluker staying at RT.
That’s my take on the trenches on both sides of the ball. Next, I’ll look at linebackers and running backs.
Thanks for reading, and let me know what your thoughts are!
San Diego is locked and loaded after resting through their bye week. League-mandated days off allowed them to travel or just stay home and rest. Because it was the bye week, I began to think about the current team and who would remain in 2015. I figured I would check out who was in the last year of their contract and who was extended beyond the 2015 season.
The list of players in the final year of their contracts, otherwise known as their contract year, was a bit longer than I had anticipated. Below is a list of those players.
WR – Seyi Ajirotutu
RB – Ronnie Brown
OT – King Dunlap
CB – Brandon Flowers
OLB – Dwight Freeney
ILB – Andrew Gachkar
CB – Marcus Gilchrist
C – Nick Hardwick
OLB – Cordarro Law
C/G – Doug Legursky
DL – Ricardo Mathews
C/G – Rich Ohrnberger
WR – Eddie Royal
CB – Shareece Wright
RB – Ryan Mathews
There are some major players on this list that would leave major holes in the team if they were not re-signed.
Brandon Flowers was one of the best free agent signings in the entire NFL after he was released by the Kansas City Chiefs. He has made a huge impact in the secondary for John Pagano’s defense. I would imagine that Tom Telesco would make a serious effort to sign him to a contract once the time comes in 2015.
King Dunlap has been playing pretty darn well at left tackle. The only problem with keeping him is that he may be looking to be rewarded with a big contract due to his performance since coming to San Diego. Telesco will have the most money he’s had since accepting the role of General Manager when the 2015 offseason begins. If Dunlap keeps playing at a high level, there’s a good chance that he will remain a Charger.
Can you imagine the special teams units without Seyi Ajirotutu and Andrew Gachkar? Darrell Stuckey may be the captain of the third phase of the game, but both Tutu and Gachkar are key cogs in the coverage phases of special teams. Andrew has seen a big increase in playing time at inside linebacker due to the fractured foot of Manti Te’o. He has been playing his heart out.
The sorting out of the center position next year is very interesting. With Nick Hardwick on injured-reserve, Rich Ohrnberger fighting back problems, Chris Watt has seen some time at center. Both Nick and Rich will be free agents at the beginning of the 2015 league year. Hardwick has already contemplated retirement in years past. It is hard to say if we have seen the last of him in lightning bolts. Or maybe it isn’t. Many people do not expect him to come back. Watt may be the future at either center or right guard. The center spot will be something to keep an eye on following 2014.
Eddie Royal has proven to be a playmaker and solid weapon for Philip Rivers. He also sees a lot of time as the team’s punt returner. He has a solid relationship with Rivers and he helped in the recruiting of Flowers to the Bolts. He is good in the slot and he provides a contrasting style to that of starting wideouts Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd. I have a feeling that he may be re-signed.
Marcus Gilchrist is currently San Diego’s starting strong safety. After moving from cornerback to his current position, Gilchrist has made some plays but he isn’t necessarily irreplaceable. Some media members expected him to be a possible cut during the 2014 offseason. If the play of Jahleel Addae continues on the upswing, and he gets fully healthy, the chances of Marcus being re-signed may decrease exponentially.
While examining the corner situation, Shareece Wright is another starter that is in his contract year. He has improved quite a bit since coming into the league. If the Chargers are unable to keep Brandon Flowers, Wright is almost guaranteed to remain a Charger in 2015 and beyond. But if both Flowers and Jason Verrett are other available options, I’m not so sure that Shareece stays in America’s finest city. I hope that he does as I enjoy watching his physicality in the running game and his coverage skills continue to get better as he becomes more experienced in the NFL.
This next one is the toughest one for me. I don’t even like writing about this subject when it comes to this player.
Let me begin by saying that I hope Ryan Mathews remains a Charger for life. He is, without a doubt, the best back on the current roster and his hard-charging, physical running style makes the San Diego offense better. He had a fantastic 2013 year in which he finished seventh in the league in rushing yardage. His MCL sprain in week 2 against Seattle has really affected the Charger offense. He is about to return and do everything in his power to help earn a future contract with the Bolts. He is a threat as a receiving option out of the backfield and he has improved as a pass blocker when called upon to do so in effort to keep Rivers clean and safe while in the pocket.
There are a lot of questions surrounding which players will be re-signed for 2015 and beyond. It goes without saying that the extra cap space Telesco will have should help in retaining the guys that he believes deserve to stay. The question is, who does he want to keep? He has quite some time to think this over. But there are going to be a lot of difficult decisions.
Thanks a lot for reading.
The Chargers had a decisive victory against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, scoring 23 unanswered points. It wasn’t always pretty, but considering the health of the team: Mantei Te’o, Jason Verrett, Jerry Attaochu, Reggie Walker inactive, Ryan Mathews on the shelf, Melvin Ingram on short-term IR and Danny Woodhead lost for the year, it was a mostly well-played game. I never thought I’d say this, but the Chargers offensive line misses Jeromey Clary. It took the defense the first half to figure Blake Bortles out, but once they did, it was all Chargers.
My May prediction: “Can you say doormat of the NFL? Chad Henne is a pedestrian QB at best. No more MJD? Not that he’s the player he was a few years ago, but he was their most potent weapon. Toby Gerhart will never be confused for MJD. Their pass rush is getting old (Jason Babin 10 years and Chris Clemons 11 years). Because our boys have a habit of playing to the level of the competition, this game will be closer than it should be. 27-17 Bolts (3-1)” Well, I got the outcome right and was close on the score, which was better than I predicted. I’m now 2-2 against my May predictions.
Chris Clemons was a non-factor. In fact, his name was never even called. Toby Gerhart was limited to 32 yards on 10 carries. He also lost a fumble on the opening drive forced by Jarret Johnson that the Chargers unfortunately weren’t able to capitalize on. Henne was replaced by Bortles and it looked like John Pagano and the defense weren’t ready for him in the beginning. That showed in the first half with the ease Jacksonville moved the ball up and down the field. To his credit, Pagano made the right adjustments and the defense pitched a shutout in the second half with the help of interceptions by Brandon Flowers and Eric Weddle. Jahleel Addae, Cordarro Law and Ricardo Mathews each recorded a sack as it was clear Jacksonville was out to neutralize Dwight Freeney.
Philip Rivers had a big game going 29 for 39 for 377 yards. He threw for three touchdowns against no interceptions. Rivers now has nine touchdown passes against one interception through the first four games of the season. Keenan Allen had 10 catches for 135 yards and Eddie Royal had five catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns. The gap could have been wider if the Chargers could run the ball. Collectively, Branden Oliver and Donald Brown could only manage 32 yards. Timing between Philip and Doug Legursky and Chris Watt left a lot to be desired as well. Too many misfires on the quarterback/center exchange. They need to get this cleaned up.
Next up, the 1-3 New York Jets who are coming off a 24-17 loss to the Detroit Lions. With being inactive against the Jags, it’d be nice to get Verrett and Attaochu back in action. There are still three games until the bye week. Chargers don’t need any more injuries to pile up.