Nov 3, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; San Diego Chargers offensive tackle D.J. Fluker (76), Chargers guard Jeromey Clary (66), and Chargers center Nick Hardwick (61) line up against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cap

The Chargers were strapped for cash in free agency. However, they were able to make some huge moves simply by not letting a significant amount of talent walk for nothing. TT re-signed starters Donald Butler, Chad Rhinehart, Darrell Stuckey (if special teams is 1/3 of the game, and Stuckey is the ST captain, he is a starter), Richard Marshall, and Seyi Ajirotutu. He also brought in Donald Brown as a 3rd runningback and a couple other guys for depth. For a full list and analysis of the offseason moves, go here.

After the initial period of free agency, the Chargers stand pat with $3,653,253 remaining on the salary cap. (Spotrac)

As we know, the NFL implemented a rookie wage scale in 2011 following the monstrosity of a deal that Sam Bradford signed. Fortunately for NFL teams and us, we are able to project the amount of money the rookies will cost against the cap and how much we will need to budget.

The Chargers will have 7 draft picks in the 2014 NFL Draft. Each one of these picks now has a set value that can be predicted based on the salary cap and previous year. These numbers will assume that the Chargers use all of their own selections. Based on the rookie wage scale and cap estimates from

The Chargers will need a total of $4,496,449 in 2014 cap space to sign all 7 rookies to the roster. 

1, 25: $1,434,364

2, 57: $669,396

3, 89: $556,035

4, 125: $520,135

5, 165: $449,483

6, 201: $435,562

7, 240: $431,474

What does this mean for the rest of the off-season? Well, if TT really does plan on building a contender through the draft, it means he has $843,196 to trim from the roster in order to make room for his selections. 

So, weren’t we all wondering what in the world Jeromey Clary was still doing on the roster with such a huge cap number or why Larry English and John Phillips are still around? The legitimate need for cap space here almost ensures that TT will be trimming some fat between now and rookie signings. He may be holding on to see if Clary can generate any value or wait to see if we draft a top guard in the draft before he drops the offensive lineman. With such deep offensive line talent in the draft, it looks like that will be the case.

Releasing Clary will save $6,250,000 in salary, but create $1,700,000 in dead money counting against the cap. This means that releasing Clary will net us $4,550,000 in cap space for a grand total of $8,203,253 in cap room today. After rookie signings, we will be left with $3,706,804 in cap space for TT to spend at will. Releasing Larry English would free up an additional $1,542,500. He can take some chances on remaining free agents like Bruce Campbell, Kenny Britt, Pat Simms, etc. TT likes to bring in some fringe talent from other rosters right before the season (Sean Lissemore, Reggie Walker, Thomas Keiser, etc.), and this flexibility will allow him to do so.

As if that wasn’t enough good news, the Chargers have $12,543,316 in dead money counting against the cap in 2014. This is made up of the Jared Gaither, Derek Cox, Robert Meachem, Le’ron McLain, and other various contracts. After this season, we will be free from all those bad contracts at the beginning of next year. Woo Hoo!

Who do you guys think will be the player(s) that get(s) cut to make room for the rooks?

Who is the most likely cap casualty?

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Tags: Cap Space San Diego Chargers

  • davacho

    brilliant article- thank you for bringing logic and facts to the table! love it!

    • Julien Bélair


  • Jordan Denning

    I would rather see some sort of restructuring or pay cut for clary rather than just a straight up cut off the roster. He is playing guard and getting paid like a tackle, so let’s pay him like a guard and save money. John Phillips is as good as gone in mind already

    • Conor Cahill

      He isnt exactly a guard worth $4M a year or whatever it would be. PFF ranked him the 72nd best guard out of 81. Royals restructure on the last year of his deal only net $1M in cap room. Im assuming Clary would be about the same so we wouldnt get much flexibility, just enough space to sign draftees.

      • Peter Thompson

        72nd out of 81!!!!! Yet people are like a broken record, saying he isn’t that bad. If that isn’t bad… I don’t know what is. Even a restructure isn’t worth it.. he’s just not good. Why should we pay him what GOOD guards make? I don’t get anything about that rationale.

  • Calman21

    Great article, I like how someone finally addressed why Clary is likely still on the roster (i.e. we don’t have a pressing need to cut him and you tip your hand if you cut him before the draft). I think Clary stays and gets extended and restructured. I think English is gone.

    • Gunnar Martin

      Right. I think Phillips gets cut as well.

      • Calman21

        Based on the cap numbers, I don’t think Philiips is going anywhere. I do not think we gain much for cutting him and he is a great blocker.

        • Gunnar Martin

          He really isn’t as great of a blocker as was advertised. He blew a lot of assignments. Johnson seems like an upgrade in every way. And besides, why would we keep four tight ends on the active roster?

          • Calman21

            Johnson grading out well in run blocking….and was usually pulled for pass blocking. I would guess that Johnson was pulled in to compete for the job or take Phillips job if (and that is a big if) he is not recovered from last year. As far as it being an upgrade….at best i would say it is an equivalent move. We could keep 4 as well will not likely be keeping a FB.

      • Peter Thompson

        That’s who I voted for… Phillips. Seems like the most easy, and obvious move.

  • ECAVILLE/Ace of Spades

    Method to the madness!♠

  • Gunnar Martin

    Conor, I think this is my favorite article of yours so far. Great stuff. Love the Clary-fication :)

  • boltingindiego

    actually the boltz don’t have to cut anyone since the last 3 picks won’t affect the salary cap since they won’t be one of the top 51 contracts which do count against the salary cup. If i had to choose though it would be clary or at least reduce his inflated horrible rt contract.

    • Conor Cahill

      ah thats true i forgot about that. wouldnt it just not include the last 2?

      • boltingindiego

        i was just manually counting the players might of messed up counting the 51 players. wished that overthecap had a # order so it would be easier to locate the 51 player. i think it was around 470 k were the 51 was but definitely the last 2 picks wouldn’t count. I was confused about the rookie cap until i read about rule 51 on some redskin blog.

  • Sourdiesel

    So maybe next offseason we can make one of those signings we all want to see at the beginning of free agency!

    • Peter Thompson

      We are gonna be friggin’ loaded next season.

  • BlueBoltFan

    There’s also a chance that Cary takes a reduction or restructure which could clear up $2-3 million instead of $4 million, but keeps him on the roster.

    He could also be the cherry on top for a draft day trade though I think the team likes his toughness and versatility, quality notwithstanding.

    • Cooper

      Good luck getting a team to take on his bloated contract for a G that ranked 72 out of 82. The Bolts would have to throw in a low draft pick just to get a good pick in return.

      • BlueBoltFan

        I ‘d imagine he’d be depth/competition in camp for some other team, not a starter, meaning the other team would reduce his salary. But you’re right, he’s pretty much an impossible player to move.
        That said, I doubt that NFL teams use PFF too often. They tend to gather that information for themselves, making their own value judgments. And unlike PFF they can actually talk to players, get detailed medical evaluations, and work them out.

      • Peter Thompson


    • Cooper


  • Peter Thompson

    Great stuff Conor!!!