LA Chargers News

Chargers: Thomas Davis a surprise cut in flurry of moves before free agency

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 20: Thomas Davis Sr. #58 of the Los Angeles Chargers gets frustrated with the officials after being hurt in a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on October 20, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 20: Thomas Davis Sr. #58 of the Los Angeles Chargers gets frustrated with the officials after being hurt in a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on October 20, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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In a series of moves on Friday, the LA Chargers surprisingly released veteran linebacker Thomas Davis, along with Brandon Mebane.

The offseason kept on rolling for the LA Chargers on Friday, starting with the use of the franchise tag on Hunter Henry. Henry will be tagged at an $11 million value for the 2020 season.

In terms of what it may mean for the future, contract talks will still go on. In terms of past franchise tag history, Melvin Ingram comes to mind. He was initially tagged by the Chargers before signing a four-year deal worth $66 million in 2017.

Everyone expected the Chargers to tag Henry, but the cuts they made were more surprising. Brandon Mebane and Thomas Davis were released. Mebane doesn’t come as much of a surprise, as it’s possible he’s mulling retirement. He also declined a little bit last year in terms of his ability to stuff the run.

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Davis is the real shocker here. While his 2019 was polarizing to fans, it ultimately felt like the draft and free agency’s lack of linebacker depth would leave him some role on the team in 2020. However, the Chargers feel comfortable to move on without him.

If Kyzir White is ready to play a full 16 games in 2020, the release of Davis may not hurt too much. Drue Tranquill could be in for an increased role as well.

The last move on Friday was the restructuring of Denzel Perryman‘s contract. Perryman was supposed to make about six million dollars in 2020. His new contract converts some portion of his base salary to incentives, freeing up cap space. How much exactly is currently unknown.

Altogether, the Chargers saved about $9.5 million in cap space with Mebane and Perryman plus the unknown Perryman contract value. With Henry costing 11 million under the tag, they pretty much paid his salary without having to spend much of the cap at all.

Not sacrificing much cap in the tagging of Henry may be key to the moves the Chargers end up making in free agency. At some point, the team will have a meeting with Tom Brady.

There’s not much known about what the odds are on the Chargers signing him, but they will be a suitor, per multiple reports. Either way, still having about 50 million dollars left in cap space after tagging Henry is huge for free agency and cements the Chargers as key players.

The Chargers had a busy day that began with the unsurprising tagging of Henry but ended with interesting moves that set up free agency. The moves also leave questions on defense. If White steps into Davis’ linebacker role, that would be huge, but it’s unknown if that’s even the plan yet.

Mebane was getting older and less efficient, but how the LA Chargers develop Jerry Tillery and bulk up with nose and defensive tackles will ultimately determine if it was a net positive.

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Saving cap for free agency was clearly on Tom Telesco’s mind, and we’ll see what the fruits of that are by the end of the next week. It could result in Brady, or one of the other top free agents out there.

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