2. Nine million reasons why
The Chargers started the offseason around ninth in the league in cap space. With just two cuts, they’ve ballooned up to fourth in the league with $51.2 million. The only teams with more spending space available to them in free agency are the Jets, Patriots, and Jaguars.
Hayward’s release became somewhat likely from a financial perspective. Had the Chargers kept the veteran corner in 2021, he would’ve had an $11 million dollar cap hit. With his release, the Chargers only carry $2 million in dead cap. $9 million in total salary cap savings with one cut is just too appealing to pass up, especially considering that the Chargers didn’t see Hayward in their long-term plans.
The same logic is why Trai Turner was an obvious cut. It’s a good year to have cap space to work with, especially considering the state of the market.
$20+ million between those two cuts can help re-sign their current free agents or pursue external ones. If Hunter Henry costs $12 million in AAV and Michael Davis costs $7 million, Telesco basically just paid for their extensions. Should one of those players walk (more likely Henry than Davis), the Chargers would have plenty of money to replace them.
The release of Hayward strengthens the Chargers’ financial position as players in free agency, like they were last year.