4 moves to help create significant Los Angeles Chargers cap space in 2024

The next Los Angeles Chargers general manager has an even bigger mess ahead of them than the eventual head coach. Tom Telesco left a mess to clean up and it won’t all be fixed in one year. However, the first step towards improving for the future starts with salary-cap compliance.

Telesco did his replacement no favors, signing numerous aging stars to lucrative long-term deals that tied up a lot of cap space. To put things into perspective, per OverTheCap.com, Los Angeles has over $285 million in total liabilities next season and the 2024 salary cap won’t pass $250 million.

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Recognizing at the start that Los Angeles is $35 million over the 2024 NFL salary cap as of right now, let’s dive into the moves that can help them get under the cap and create some spending flexibility.

Cut Ties with Khalil Mack

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Chargers
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On the surface, it might seem difficult to cut Khalil Mack’s production. Entering Week 17, the 32-year-old edge rusher was responsible for 15 sacks and 5 forced fumbles this season. Even if you erase the six-sack performance against the Las Vegas Raiders, he’s still going to finish with double-digit sacks.

However, he graded as a slightly above-average pass rusher in 2021-’22, meaning Los Angeles would be vetting a $38.517 million cap hit in 2024 on Mack replicating his production as a 33-year-old. That’s a bad bet and with Mack unlikely to restructure his contract, the Chargers’ best option is simply cutting him.

  • Cap Space Created: $23.25 million

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Trade Joey Bosa

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Tennessee Titans
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When healthy, edge rusher Joey Bosa is worth the five-year, $135 million contract Telesco signed him to. However, durability has rarely been one of his best attributes. Instead, he’s either played through injury and been less effective or missed significant time.

Los Angeles could live with Bosa missing six-plus games when he carried a cap hit under $25 million like he does this season> The problem is that Bosa has played just 14 games in the last two years, totaling 9 sacks in that span. While he earned a Pro Bowl selection in 2021, he wasn’t as effective as the player we saw before. Turning 29 years old in July, Los Angeles must consider trading Bosa in the spring.

Cap HitPre-June 1 TradePost-June 1 trade
2024$36.611 million$14.388 million cap savings$21.99M cap savings ($7M dead cap hit)
2025$32.971 million$25.36 million cap savings$25.36 million cap savings
Joey Bosa contract details via Spotrac

While it would deal a short-term blow to the team’s pass rush, especially with Mack released, it’s the on-field price to pay for creating a more cost-effective roster. The Chargers would be trading him when his value is low, but the downside is cutting him in 2025 and not receiving anything in return. The Chargers’ defense is already accustomed to playing without Bosa, the cap savings would provide them with a chance to someone who can be available more consistently.

  • Cap Space Created: $14.388 million

Related: 5 offseason moves the Los Angeles Chargers should make

End the Mike Williams Era

Syndication: The Tennessean
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NFL teams want to reward homegrown talent for producing. It sends a message to a locker room that if you perform on the field, you’ll be rewarded for it and that same idea hits home for Chargers’ draft picks. However, Williams arguably shouldn’t be in the Chargers’ long-term plans.

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Williams, 29, has never been Mr. Consistent. Despite his physical tools, he finished under 40 receiving yards in five separate games in 2022, not including four games he missed. A year before that, Williams had six games under 50 receiving yards and four games with 100-plus yards.

Los Angeles can do better long-term than a receiver who only won on 44.3 percent of his routes in 2022, ranking 30th in yards per route run (2.01), 34th in target separation (1.89) and was 39th in true catch rate (86.3 percent). Cutting Williams means keeping Keenan Allen and taking a wide receiver early in the 2024 NFL Draft.

  • Cap Savings Created: $20 million

Cleaning up the rest of the roster

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Parting ways with Mack, Bosa and Williams leaves significant holes on the Chargers’ roster. However, it also creates ample spending room in 2024 and beyond. Not only that, it also allows for Allen and some other important veterans to return. However, the work isn’t finished.

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A year after welcoming him to Los Angeles, the Chargers should cut linebacker Eric Kendricks ($6.5 million savings) and replace him with a cheaper, younger linebacker. The same fate can happen for Morgan Fox ($3.5 million), even if it only creates a little more financial flexibility. Finally, Trey Pipkins can be designated as a post-June 1 release.

Los Angeles Chargers cap space 2024