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 OvertheCap.com:

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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