The LA Chargers released veteran cornerback Casey Hayward over the weekend and freed up $9.75 million in cap space for the 2021 season. This was expected, as Hayward’s dead cap hit was noticeably small and the former Pro Bowl cornerback was not himself in 2021.
In fact, Hayward was quite poor. The best game to go back and watch to highlight this truth was against the New York Jets, where a rookie receiver in Denzel Mims made Hayward look like a rookie, not a veteran.
The LA Chargers cornerback room is extremely thin. As things currently stand, Chris Harris is the only roster-worthy cornerback that the team has on the roster. Tom Telesco is going to have to pursue corners in the 2021 NFL Draft as well as make one or two savvy signings to build up the cornerback depth.
Most importantly, Telesco needs to bring back Michael Davis. Davis is a free agent after a solid 2020 season and with Hayward officially gone, you would think that Davis returning is a lock.
That does not appear to be the case.
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo said while appearing on ‘Good Morning Football’ that Michael Davis will get somewhere around $10 million next season and that he is expected to land elsewhere.
From @gmfb on the free agent CB market. William Jackson, Patrick Peterson and Shaquill Griffin are among the top available but the second tier of players at the position should get good money as well.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 15, 2021
The LA Chargers have to avoid this mistake and bring back Michael Davis
This would be a massive mistake by the LA Chargers. Yes, $10 million is a pretty price to pay Michael Davis but it is a price you have to pay. Is it a little bit hefty based on his 2020 production? Sure, but there are so many more reasons to pay him that money than to not pay him that money.
First of all, Davis has traits that most cornerabcks simply do not have. Davis is six-two and is fast enough to keep up with the blazing fast receivers of the league. Tyreek Hill had his second-worst catch-rate of the season against the Chargers in Week 2 (45.5%) with Davis primarily guarding him.
The naysayers may look at the 99 yards Hill had in that game as proof against Davis, but let’s not forget that 45 of those 99 yards came on a touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes in which the Chargers lined up Chris Harris of all people on Hill.
The intangibles are exciting and the Chargers would be paying for a projection. Yes, that runs the risk of Davis not living up to all $10 million but at his age he is not suddenly going to get worse. Barring a career-altering injury, Davis will always be at least as good as he is right now.
That might not be worth $10 million alone but considering the current state of the Chargers’ secondary it would be worth it to overpay slightly. Heck, the Chagrers were willing to pay Chris Harris $10 million. If they scoff at Davis at $10 million that is as hypocritical as it gets.
Most importantly, Tom Telesco may just need to bite the bullet with Davis to save him from himself. We can all already see it coming. Davis signs elsewhere for $10 million and the Chargers instead decide to throw a one-year flier at someone like Patrick Peterson, who is over the hill but will still get $8 million or so just based on his namesake.
The first step to building the ideal LA Chargers cornerback room for 2021 is re-signing Michael Davis. The team cannot afford to mess that up.