Door swings open for Chargers to make franchise-altering trade down with Broncos

Los Angeles Chargers v Denver Broncos
Los Angeles Chargers v Denver Broncos / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

There is a divide in the Chargers fanbase on what the team should do with the fifth overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. One side of the argument wants the team to stay put and draft Marvin Harrison or Malik Nabers. The other side wants the team to move down and add more draft capital.

Either way, the Chargers need to make sure they land a franchise player in the first round. This team cannot afford to whiff on another first-round pick, and it is a lot easier to whiff on a pick outside the top 10 then it is to whiff on the fifth pick.

That being said, there may now be a way for the Chargers to ensure they are landing a franchise-altering player by trading down, while also still having the chance to trade back and add more draft capital. According to Tony Pauline of SportsKeeda, the Denver Broncos are being very aggressive in moving up in the draft, and are floating out arguably the best player on the roster to do so.

Chargers trading down with Broncos and adding Patrick Surtain would be franchise-altering

This is the kind of trade-down that a team that wants to contend for a Super Bowl in the next five years makes. Sure, it may not result in the Chargers getting an additional first-round pick in this year's draft (like a potential Vikings trade would), but it would result in the team getting a true franchise cornerback.

A potential trade following this proposed structure would see the Chargers get the 12th pick, a 2025 first-round pick and Surtain. Considering the Broncos do not have the most talented roster, the Bolts would be in a good spot to get another pick in the top 12 next year.

Surtain is in the last year of his contract and would only carry a $3.5 million cap hit if traded, so the Bolts can easily absorb him on the books. The Chargers and Surtain would have to work out a new contract for after the 2024 season but quite frankly, it would be worth it to pay one of the top corners in the sport top-tier money.

According to Over The Cap, the Chargers currently have $98.4 million in projected salary-cap space for the 2025 season. That number will go down a trade with the incoming rookie class and an eventual Rashawn Slater extension, but the team still has room to sign Surtain to a new deal.

The Chargers could free up $6.75 million by cutting Trey Pipkins ahead of 2025 and could free up over $25 million by cutting Joey Bosa if he has another injury-plagued season. The top cornerback AAV right now is $21 million, so Surtain would likely come in at $22-23 million per year. Even then, the deal could be structured in a way where his year-one cap hit is half of that AAV.

The Chargers have the room to extend Surtain, have the need for a franchise cornerback, and can still bolster the roster with the 12th pick in addition to having another valuable pick next year.

If the Bolts are going to pass on the opportunity to draft a franchise wide receiver with the fifth pick then it has to be for a deal like this.