Chargers' offseason plans just got much more complicated thanks to Jonnu Smith

Atlanta Falcons v New York Jets
Atlanta Falcons v New York Jets / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

One of the biggest roster holes that the LA Chargers have to address this offseason is the tight end position. As it stands right now, the Chargers have just one tight end on the roster (Donald Parham) who has actually played real NFL snaps. As promising as Parham is, he is not necessarily TE1 material.

With Gerald Everett hitting free agency, the Chargers are going to have to rebuild the room with the limited resources the team has. Los Angeles could simply re-sign Everett but allowing him to walk would land the team a compensatory pick, which we know GM Joe Hortiz loves. Thus, the Chargers' main plan may be to rebuild the room via the draft and a different cheap tight-end signing.

Well, the market may not be as cheap as the Chargers would have hoped. The first domino officially fell on Thursday even though free agency has not officially begun. The recently released Jonnu Smith wasted no time finding a new team, as he agreed to a two-year, $10 million contract with the Miami Dolphins.

Jonnu Smith contract is an eye-opener for the Chargers

This is not too far off of what the Chargers signed Gerald Everett to two springs ago. Los Angeles signed Everett to a two-year, $12 million contract so this price for Smith might seem to be setting a fair baseline for the tight end position.

However, this is still a bit high for a tight end who was just released by his team and is on the wrong side of 30. Smith was someone who seemingly made a lot of sense for the Chargers because of his price and the fact that he would not factor into the team's compensatory formula. But at this price, he would not have made a ton of sense.

It seemed like Smith was on his way to getting a deal in the one-year, $3.5 million range. The difference between that and two years for $10 million may seem small but it is important to note how that is going to impact the rest of the market.

Smith getting higher than expected will likely result in the other tight ends getting higher than expected. Thus, any of the low-cost free-agent tight ends that seemed like affordable targets may no longer be affordable at all. The Chargers may simply get priced out of several options, which may force the team's hand to go with someone like Brock Bowers in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

But on the bright side, at least the Chargers might get a better compensatory pick for Everett if he ends up signing for more than expected this offseason.