Chargers may have new Drue Tranquill replacement in free agency

Los Angeles Chargers v Indianapolis Colts
Los Angeles Chargers v Indianapolis Colts / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

The LA Chargers are currently well over the 2023 salary cap and it is going to end up restricting what the team can do this offseason. One of the biggest storylines around the team is if it will be able (or willing) to free up the money to re-sign linebacker Drue Tranquill.

Tranquill is coming off of a career year with the Chargers and is set to get paid as a result. Pro Football Focus projects Tranquill to get a three-year deal worth $21 million. After the Chargers let Kyzir White walk for $3 million last offseason, re-signing Tranquill may not seem likely.

With other needs in the 2023 NFL Draft, drafting a linebacker may not seem likely for the Bolts. Instead, we could see a world in which the Bolts look to sign a different veteran linebacker on a cheaper, shorter-term contract. We have seen Tom Telesco do this before with someone like Thomas Davis in years past.

Another big-name linebacker hit the market on Monday that has serious ties to the Chargers. The Minnesota Vikings are cutting Eric Kendricks to save money against the cap, freeing him up to sign with any team in the league.

Eric Kendricks is at least worth mentioning as a potential Chargers' target

Once again, it is important to note that the Chargers are currently well over the 2023 salary cap. The team is not going to be able to get in any sort of bidding war for a player like Kendricks and he would either have to be cheaper or be the same price for a short-term deal as Tranquill.

It is hard to put a value on Kendricks in free agency this offseason. While he is a big-name linebacker, he is definitely past his prime and linebacker is essentially the running back of the defense when it comes to contract values.

That being said, Bobby Wagner was able to land a five-year, $50 million contract last offseason from the LA Rams. If Kendricks is getting something like that then there is no shot for the Chargers. However, if he is getting offers like Jordan Hicks did last offseason (two years, $10 million) then it could be a possibility.

This coaching staff has ties to Kendricks, which is at least going to result in a conversation. Special teams coordinator Ryan Ficken spent several years with Kendricks in Minnesota. New linebackers coach Jeff Howard spent many years as a defensive assistant in Minnesota, five of which were during Kendricks' tenure on the team.

The Chargers are probably better off just re-signing Tranquill if the valuation is around the same in free agency. He is younger and is already ingrained in the system. But if Tranquill ends up walking and Kendricks does not have the free-agent market that he expects then it could be a possibility.

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It is not entirely likely to happen but if the NFL has taught us anything it is to expect the unexpected.