Alright, BoltFam, as already mentioned here on BoltBeat we´re now entering the “second” period of free agency which should be fun again due to some post-June 1 moves.
Just a quick reminder why the June 1 designation is such an interesting thing: The NFL breaks up its salary cap accounting for bonuses into two periods with June 1 being the trigger date. When a player is cut from the roster prior to June 1st, all his remaining unamortized bonus money immediately accelerates onto the salary cap. After June 1st, teams are able to spread the cap hit from releasing that player over the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
It seems the Bolts got less than $200,000 cap space available in 2013, but they will gain $4.5 million in cap space on June 2, as Jared Gaither´s release came with a June 1 designation. By the way, here is an number that shows how awfully we´ve been robbed by Big Lazy last season: Gaither was on the field for only 243 offensive snaps in 2012, which means he earned about $37,000 for each snap…ugh! If it makes you feel any better; he´s still unsigned.
Whatever, part of that available money will be used on the first-round pick D.J. Fluker, who will have a first-year cap number of about $2,070,000 once he signs his rookie contract.
So, in order to be able to pick-up a solid free agent in the next few days or weeks, we have to get rid of an “expendable warrior”. In a previous piece I´ve discussed possible candidates to be cut from roster.
Just a quick summary: Fan favorite Jeromey Clary is set to be a $5.7 million cap hit this season; his release would create $3.4 million in dead money (which could be spread over the next 2 years). Eddie Royal is set to be a $4.5 million cap hit when kept on the roster; cutting him would create $3 million in dead money. Set to be a $3 million cap hit, LeRon McClain will be one of the highest paid fullbacks in the league next season; McClain´s release would cause over $1.6 million in dead money. As a guy of the “old system”, Charlie Whitehurst could be expendable as well (as we got seventh round pick Brad Sorensen and undrafted rookie Mike Hermann on the roster too); he would be a $500,000 impact when cut from the roster.
But the question now is, are we even in need of an upgrade at a specific position?
Well, I don´t want to make a too big deal out of it, but let´s just take a quick look on what had been reported days ago about the Chargers´ first round pick. ESPN´s Bill Williamson said that he thinks D.J. Fluker will be “a Pro Bowler at right guard” but “will struggle some at right tackle”. Well, one could say this is only his opinion, but there had been talks about something like that already before draft. So, if it becomes apparent in training camp that Fluker is much better at right guard than at right tackle, shouldn´t we think about that option to plug him in at the interior of the offensive line? I personally don´t like that thought, but if he´s most effective at that position, then maybe this is worth a consideration. Furthermore, Williams “thinks (Max) Starks, who has played right tackle, can be successful on the right side, and that Dunlap can be a suitable short-term answer at left tackle.” But what to do with Jeromey Clary in that situation? Answer: cut him.
Would you feel comfortable with King Dunlap as blind side protector for Philip Rivers? Or would it be wiser to put Max Starks and King Dunlap in competition at left tackle and pick up a right tackle in free agency?
Well, Eric Winston and Winston Justice are still available. Eric Winston, 29, would be an immediate upgrade at the right tackle position of the Bolts´ offensive line. He’s a good zone-blocking lineman and is capable of playing guard too. Weeks ago, the former Kansas City Chief was asking for $3 to $4 million per year. Guess he already lowered his price tag. Winston Justice, 28, surely would come in much cheaper; he was a $1.5 million cap hit for the Indianapolis Colts. Just like Eric Winston he visited the Chargers some time ago.
But after all, it may be way too early to run that “D.J. Fluker might be better at right guard than right tackle” talk, so let´s move on here.
If D.J. Fluker does well at right tackle but Jeromey Clary still gets cut (cap hit!) then how are the Chargers set up at the interior of the offensive line?
We got Johnnie Troutman, who missed his entire rookie season due to injuries (pectoral muscle and knee issues). On day two of this year´s free agency, Tom Telesco brought in Chad Rinehart from the Buffalo Bills. The former backup for Andy Levitre played only seven games last year (starting only two). The second addition at guard this free agency had been Rich Ohrnberger who was on the field for only 18 games over the last three seasons (starting only four). All of those guys ended the season on injured reserve. It´s fair to mention that King Dunlap can be moved inside too and David Molk, backup of Nick Hardwick at center, took about 10 snaps at guard last year.
Looking at the injury-proneness of that player personnel makes me wanna put out my hands in free agency.
Speaking of injury-prone players – we already took a closer look at the cornerback situation yesterday. Shareece Wright and Derek Cox are set to be the starters for 2013. Last year Wright suffered an ankle sprain in the season opener and wasn´t able to return until week 9. Cox has missed 17 games over the past three seasons and 14 over the last two. If they go down again, then this year´s fifth round selection Steve Williams and free agent pick-up Johnny Patrick, who was on the field for only 218 snaps last season, would be the next in line. Tom Telesco also brought in some undrafted free agents, but those who´ll make the final roster probably will have to prove themselves on special teams first.
So, BoltFam, what do you think about all that positions? Should Tom Telesco cut an expendable guy and pick up a right tackle, guard or cornerback in free agency? Is there another roster spot we should consider here or do you think we´re set up just right for next season? Once again, feel free to share your thoughts with the Bolt family.
Thank you for checking out this piece!