Who knows where the team will be playing (that is a post for another day). Regardless of which stadium hosts the Chargers, their salary cap number will accompany them. With 16 current players set to become unrestricted free agents in March, which is most worth spending more on?
Let’s start with the obvious… Malcom Floyd is retiring so we can scratch that off the books right away. The way things ended, although an unpopular decision with the fans, Eric Weddle likely won’t be in the power blue anymore either.
Nov 1, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Malcolm Floyd (80) reacts after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
I don’t see Donald Brown as a “need to have” guy in your backfield, especially if the leash is already short on (soon to be) second year back Melvin Gordon. The team can save $3 million by releasing the seven-year veteran who contributed 59 rushing attempts this year.
Then there is the wild card and fan/quarterback favorite, Antonio Gates. While we all love #85, and believe there is one more good year in those 35-year-old legs, it might be a smart business and football move to let other talent develop at the tight end position. Don’t get me wrong, if the numbers make sense you bring the man back for that year Antonio indicated he would like to play.
No, to me the contract team brass needs to structure is right tackle Joe Barksdale. The 28-year-old started every game and played the second most snaps in 2015… second only to Philip Rivers.
According to ESPN’s Eric Williams, Barksdale played the most snaps in a single season by a San Diego offensive linemen since at least 2007, which is as far back as ESPN Stats & Information has been tracking those stats.
With a window to win quickly closing on Rivers and the offense, solid protection is paramount. Rivers can put up yards with the best of them, but you’ve got to keep your aging franchise quarterback upright to compete.
Look at the teams in the playoffs and consistently contending for the Super Bowl, the ones playing in February focus on the big boys up front.
Unrestricted free agents: T Joe Barksdale, QB Kellen Clemens, WR Malcom Floyd, TE Antonio Gates, TE Ladarius Green, T Chris Hairston, TE David Johnson, T Jeff Linkenbach, DE Ricardo Mathews, LB Joe Mays, TE John Phillips, DE Kendall Reyes, G Johnnie Troutman, CB Cassius Vaughn, C J.D. Walton, S Eric Weddle.