Five Los Angeles Chargers Who Won't Be Back in 2023
The Los Angeles Chargers ended the 2022 season in embarrassing fashion, blowing a 27-point lead in a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Wild Card round. Now they enter an offseason of uncertainty, as they sit roughly $23 million over the cap for 2023 and that's without handing Justin Herbert the bank-breaking contract extension he's sure to get. Their cap situation is the sixth-worst in the NFL. This offseason won't be a fun one.
Joey Bosa ($31 million) and Corey Linsley ($13.1 million) could restructure their deals to create some more cap space, but the Chargers are going to have to make some difficult cuts to become cap compliant. Additionally, they'll have to let a number of free agents walk because there simply isn't the money to bring them back.
The Chargers went all-in last offseason, signing J.C. Jackson to a massive, ill-fated contract, trading draft picks to import Khalil Mack's big deal and signing Mike Williams to a huge contract. They also vastly overpaid for defensive linemen Austin Johnson and Sebastian Joseph-Day, neither of whom lived up to their deals. The franchise is paying for those mistakes now. Mack ($27.4 million), Jackson ($17 million), Johnson ($9.5 million) and Joseph-Day ($9 million) are all drains on the cap and only Mack seems even close to worth the money.
What follows is a look at five players who likely won't be back with the Chargers next season.
Is this a risky guess? Yes. But given Allen's rapidly diminishing athleticism and high cap number, it's certainly not out of the question that he'll be cut loose this offseason. Allen is a straight possession receiver at this point, who doesn't provide much down-field upside. Yes, he's a security blanket for Herbert, but a hamstring injury robbed him of seven games in 2022.
Allen is about to turn 31, is coming off his worst NFL season and carries a cap hit of $21.7 million that will jump to $25.8 million in 2024. He almost certainly won't be on the roster in 2024 and the Chargers could save $14.8 million if they cut him now. There is certainly sentimentality here but in reality Allen is a guy who averaged 10.7 yards per catch in 2021 and 9.9 YPC in 2020, then followed that up by averaging 11.4 YPC in 10 games in 2022. He isn't the guy LA handed that big contract to anymore.
Could Allen be back? Sure. But the smart thing to do would be getting out from under his contract now, draft a receiver to replace his production and upgrade Mike Williams to No. 1 target status.
Feiler helped stabilize LA's line a bit in 2021 when he arrived along with center Corey Linsley and first-round draft pick tackle Rashawn Slater. But the veteran left guard carries a cap hit of $8.5 million for 2023 and was awful during the 2022 season. Pro Football Focus handed Feiler a grade of 53.3 for 2022, which is not good at all.
The logical thing for the Chargers to do would be cut Feiler loose and save the money. The problem is that doing so would leave a hole on the line and recent history suggests LA is really bad at plugging those holes. Even with Linsley and Slater playing at a high level (when they've been healthy) the line has struggled to find cohesion in front of Herbert. Still, Feiler is not worth the money he's being paid.
Everett became an excellent outlet for Herbert as the 2022 season wore on, but he could be another casualty of cap mismanagement by the Chargers. He carries a cap hit of $8.5 million, and if the Chargers are going to keep a guy like Mack around, someone will need to go. The 28-year-old is one of the most obvious targets.
In his first year with the Chargers in 2022, Everett set career-highs in receptions (58) and yards (555) and tied a career-high with four touchdowns. But he's not a Travis Kelce-level talent at tight end, which makes him expendable. Herbert could likely make another, cheaper free agent or drafted player just as good as Everett. It would be a surprise if he was back.
Adderley had a solid season at safety in 2022 across from Derwin James, but like Everett, he's entirely replaceable. PFF gave the free agent a grade of 62.2, which is no better than average, and he's in line for a multiyear contract. Would the Chargers like to bring him back for the sake of continuity? Almost certainly. But he's not that good and he's certainly not worth the money it would take to bring him back.
Adderley and cornerback Bryce Callahan are both free agents, while cornerback Michael Davis is also a potential cut. Those three are on the chopping block almost solely due to the horrible contract the Chargers gave J.C. Jackson last offseason. Jackson has been a massive bust and LA is paying for it right now.
Tranquill become an every-down linebacker for the Chargers in 2022. In reality, he is best suited for situational work. But he's hitting free agency after setting career-highs in tackles (146), solo tackles (95) and sacks (5). The problem is, he was only slightly above average according to PFF (66.5) and almost certainly not worth a multiyear investment.
Tranquill is an undersized linebacker who can get pushed around against the run. He's solid running in coverage, but just doesn't have the overall skills to be paid like an every down linebacker. The Chargers obviously like him a lot, but with little money available, spending it on Tranquill would be unwise.