With free agency fast approaching, the Los Angeles Chargers decided not to allow one of their own to hit the market by re-signing safety Jahleel Addae to a reported four-year, $22.5 million contract. I examine why this move seemed to be rushed by the Chargers, and how his contract correspondingly affects the team’s free agency plans.
Let’s get the cat out of the bag here everybody: I think that Jahleel Addae got overpaid. Shelling out over $5 million a year to Addae is error #1. I have serious doubts another team would’ve offered him anything close to what we did. I could very well be wrong, but to be quite frank, I don’t think I am in this case.
Error #2 kicks in when you factor in the 27-year-old’s health concerns. After already sustaining multiple concussions over his career and being unable to consistently suit up for games any given Sunday, it makes no sense to sign him to a long-term deal.
Error #3 rears its ugly head around when you realize how many better or cheaper replacements were available on the market or in the draft. I’ll go into further detail of each error in the paragraphs to follow.
The fundamental process of handing out over $5 million a year to an average performer at a non-valuable position, all while your team is rather hamstrung for cap space, speaks for itself. If Addae would just play under more control, I’d have way less beef with this contract. However, he has been unable to contain his exuberance on the field, to say the least.
Jan 1, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers strong safety Jahleel Addae (37) intercepts a pass intended for Kansas City Chiefs running back Knile Davis (34) during the second half of the game at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chiefs won 37-27. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Addae’s passionate play is a double-edged sword to some degree. His aggressive nature is what both gets him into trouble on the field, as well as brings out the best football player in him. Unfortunately, the positive play-to-dumb penalty ratio has always been skewed to the negative. For every bone-jarring hit in the backfield, there seems to be two unnecessary roughness penalties or Addae inflicting injury upon himself or a teammate.
This inability to stay healthy is the second reason why I think signing Addae to a long-term contract was a mistake. Why sign an injury-prone player (who missed eight games last season) to a long-term deal? The question is that simple folks; really, it’s not logical, like at all. The silver lining is that he was only guaranteed $10 million (supposedly), and if the details, which have yet to be released, are close to that total, then cap hits in the last two years of his contract should be low enough not to worry if he doesn’t perform up to new expectations.
The most insensible part of re-signing Addae was that the market for safeties this year is very strong. D.J. Swearinger, Micah Hyde, Barry Church and Tony Jefferson (just to name a few, there are others) all fall under the cheaper or better alternatives than Addae.
And if the team still wasn’t convinced, they need not look any further than the upcoming draft, which is absolutely stacked with young talent at both safety positions. The Chargers don’t even need to go after safety at the No. 7 spot in the draft! While Malik Hooker and Jamal Adams are very good college prospects, I believe the drop off between them and Budda Baker or Obi Melifonwu is not as drastic as some make it out to be. Again, I’m no draft “expert” (what does that even mean?); this is just an observation from my end and a discussion for another time.
To top it all off, Addae’s contract tightens the team’s cap space total, and free agency just started. Remember, the incoming 2017 draft pool will suck up around $8 million in cap space by itself. Subtract that from the Chargers’ remaining cap space and the team will have less than $10 million to spend on free agents. It’s certainly not enough money to make a splash and while it’s not ideal, it also isn’t the end of the world.
As a team, you obviously want to add quality players whenever possible, yet when you look at the Chargers roster, it’s not like they need an overhaul to compete. The pieces to success are already in place. If L.A. only signs a starting-caliber left tackle with their remaining cap space, I’d consider free agency a success.
So while I disapprove of the signing, the deal as a whole isn’t God awful. I just think the Chargers could have done better either negotiating or finding a viable replacement. All in all, L.A. could afford to bring back Addae, so they did. Here’s hoping to a prolonged healthy career for Mr. Addae. A career that benefits L.A. as much as this contract will benefit Addae.
As I often like to say, time will reveal all truths, and in the case of the Chargers and Jahleel Addae, time will reveal whether or not this contract will pay dividends for the team.