The LA Chargers have one of the most interesting payrolls in the entire sport. In order to make room to spend this offseason, GM Tom Telesco boldly restructured multiple contracts that created larger cap hits (which will likely lead to cuts) for the 2024 season.
Then the team also has the elephant in the room in the Justin Herbert extension. History tells us exactly when that extension will come but until pen hits paper, fans are going to be slightly worried about the status of his deal.
For the most part, the Chargers have shown really good judgement with the contract decisions that the team has made. In fact, there are specific decisions right now that will or already have paid off greatly for the team.
1. Chargers will benefit from not giving in to Austin Ekeler
Austin Ekeler and the Chargers were unable to agree on an extension and that prompted the star running back to seek out a trade. Once he realized that the running back market just wasn't there, Ekeler gave up the search and recommitted to the Chargers, who were gracious enough to put incentives in his deal.
The Chargers didn't have to do that but wanted to do Ekeler a favor for everything he has done for the team. That is fine, as it really does not change the calculus of this year's cap or the cap space in future years.
Where the Chargers were really smart was the team's decision to not give into Ekeler and sign him to a new deal. As great as Ekeler has been in recent years, the team would have been paying him future money for past production if he signed an extension.
He is going to be over 30 after the 2023 season and for many running backs that is the start of a hard decline. A lot of fans pressured the team to take care of Ekeler and give him the raise he was looking for. Instead, the Chargers stood pat and it was the right thing to do.