It’s almost time for free agency and the Los Angeles Chargers are looking to add new members and retain old ones to make themselves Super Bowl contenders. According to Daniel Popper of The Athletic, the Chargers are $23,431,642 over the $224.8 million cap, so there will need to be some Chargers cap casualties to get closer to that number. Below, let’s see who may go by the wayside to make more cap space and the different Keenan Allen scenarios.
Possible Chargers Cap Casualties
Matt Feiler was not great this year. He allowed one more quarterback sack (six) this year than last and had double-digit quarterback pressures (40) and hurries (31). This is the last season of his contract. He also comes with a cap hit of $8.5 million. If he’s cut pre-June 1st, the Chargers will only have to pay $2 million in dead money and will get a cap savings of $6.5 million. With that savings, maybe they can either draft someone or get a backup on the team to play left guard.
The Chargers have found their tight end in Gerald Everett and it’s about time they let Tre’ McKitty go. This is McKitty’s second year with the team and in playing 332 more snaps this season, all of his PFF grades have declined from last year. McKitty has this year and next left on his contract with a cap hit this season of $1,305,232 and next season of $1,460,154. If he’s cut post-June 1st, the Chargers would incur $210,154 in dead money this year and next, with a cap savings of $1,095,078. Since the Chargers would only get $154,922 more in cap savings if they cut him next year, there’s not much incentive to keep him.
The Chargers need more tight ends like Everett and Donald Parham to get more production in those tight end packages.
Dustin Hopkins has grit, which was on display during the Broncos game as he painfully worked through an injury while still making every field goal. He was reliable but after having two other kickers throughout the season, including Cameron Dicker, who made almost every kick he attempted, the team has proven they can survive without Hopkins. Though Dicker is less experienced, with a whole offseason to get him ready, he could hit the ground running for this coming season.
Hopkins has this year and next left on his contract. The cap hit for Hopkins is $3,085,147 this year and $5,550,000 next year. The Chargers would incur $800,000 in dead money this year and next if they cut him post-June 1st and would acquire $2,285,147 in cap savings if they cut him this year and $4,750,000 if they cut him next year. Considering Dicker is ERFA (exclusive rights free agent) this year and they could potentially sign him for much cheaper than it would cost to pay Hopkins, it may be worth it to cut Hopkins sooner than 2024.
The Keenan Allen of it all
Now, the Chargers will likely restructure before cutting Keenan Allen since his production hasn’t declined despite only playing eleven weeks this year. Allen is aging and is only under contract until 2024, they may consider releasing him to save money. Allen comes with a cap hit of $21.7 million and if they were to release him prior to June 1, the Chargers would incur $ 6.9 million in dead money this year and a cap savings of $14.8 million.
Cutting him post-June 1st would result in even less dead money ($4.2 million this year and $2.7 million next year) and even more cap savings ($17.5 million). The Chargers could also trade Allen after June first which would still result in $2.7 million in dead money this year and next, and a larger cap savings of $19 million. But, trades always have strings attached like draft picks, so that’s another layer to consider.
If the Chargers were to release him next year on the last year of his contract, his cap number then would be $25.8 million, and if released prior to June 1, they would actually be responsible for less of a dead cap ($2.7 million) and acquire much more of cap savings ($23.1 million). The same cap savings results in 2024 if he’s traded before or after June 1st. Cutting Allen would be the most surefire way to save on cap space, so it’s certainly a possibility. But the Chargers would likely benefit more from a restructure, which would help them with the cap situation this season, or from cutting him next season.