NFL rumors: Group of Pro Bowlers could enter free agency in a flash

  • Tom Telesco was great at drafting players, but the Los Angeles Chargers did not always win.
  • Tasked with the impossible, new general manager Joe Hortiz must clean up his mess.
  • If you read between the lines, a slew of high-priced veterans could be hitting the market.

Khalil Mack, Los Angeles Chargers
Khalil Mack, Los Angeles Chargers / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

Despite landing Jim Harbaugh out of Michigan, the Los Angeles Chargers have some work to do to get in a good position with the NFL salary cap. Entering the first day of the new league year, the Bolts are the only team considerably over the cap at around a $25 million deficit. It won't be easy, but this is the job new general manager Joe Hortiz is tasked with: To clean up the mess Tom Telesco created.

The worst part in all of this for the Chargers is they were even the least bit good a year ago. This probably has something to do with hiring an imposter as a head coach a few years back in Brandon Staley. Blowing that playoff game up big in Jacksonville showed us all how much quit this team had living inside of it. Even more damning, so many of these guys are being paid out the wazoo by them.

So what is Hortiz to do? Trim the fat! For the Chargers, that fat is delicious and mirrors the finest cut of steak. But with a clean set of eyes, they can set themselves up for success, as Harbaugh has won everywhere he has coached before. On such solution would be to cut any of the following players.

  • Keenan Allen: $34,717,500 cap hit ($11,617,500 dead cap)
  • Joey Bosa: $36,611,666 cap hit ($22,223,335 dead cap)
  • Khalil Mack: $38,517,500 cap hit ($15,267,500 dead cap)
  • Mike Williams: $32,460,000 cap hit ($12,460,000 dead cap)

With their powers combined, they account for $142 million against the cap. Someone is getting cut...

No matter who they release, or trade, the Chargers could get serious cap relief by moving on from any of these players. The bigger question is what position is more in demand: A receiver or pass-rusher?

NFL rumors: A slew of Los Angeles Chargers stars could be on the market

Of the four players mentioned, three would save the Chargers at least $20 million in cap space. Williams gets you $20 million on the dot. Allen gets you a shade over $23 million, as does Mack, but his dead-cap hit is nearly $4 million more than Allen's. Bosa is probably the most punitive cap casualty, as he would only free up roughly $14 million, while carrying around $22 million in dead cap.

On paper, releasing one of them gets you close to being under the cap. Cutting two players would give the Chargers some wiggle room to address other needs, whether that be in the second wave of NFL free agency or in the 2024 NFL Draft in a few weeks. To me, they need to move on from one receiver and one pass rusher. My money would be on moving on from Mack and Williams. Here is why.

Bosa is a homegrown product, whereas Mack is now on his third team. Given that Bosa makes slightly less than Mack, but carries a larger dead-cap hit, that should be the deciding factor, all things equal. When it comes to the Allen vs. Williams debate, who really wants an often-injured wide receiver? Allen has been the better player historically. Plus, I think Williams offers the cleanest break of the two guys.

Expect for the Chargers to move on from at least two of these players by the start of the new year.

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