The LA Chargers just wrapped up the team's final preseason game of the year against the San Francisco 49ers and it is officially time to look toward roster cuts.
The Chargers have to cut the roster all the way down to 53 players by Tuesday. This is different from previous years where there were structured cuts that would happen as the preseason went along.
There are a lot of tough decisions that the Chargers are going to have to make and some players are naturally going to be left out.
Based on how the Chargers typically make decisions, we can predict what the team is going to do with the 53-man roster. It is important to note that these predictions are based on the team's tendencies, not necessarily what we would do if we were given the chance to sculpt the roster.
Updated Chargers 53-man roster projection:
Quarterback (3): Justin Herbert, Easton Stick, Max Duggan
Chargers beat writer Daniel Popper predicted that the team would only carry two quarterbacks after Brandon Staley's non-commital answer to keeping Max Duggan on the roster. While Staley's answers definitely make it seem less likely that Duggan will be kept, it is hard to see the team not carrying a third quarterback. There is the new emergency QB rule, the team kept three quarterbacks in each of the last two years, and the Chargers used a pick on Duggan.
Running back (3): Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, Isaiah Spiller
Isaiah Dotson was the feel-good story of the first preseason game of the year but he did not do enough to warrant the team carrying a fourth running back. He will be secured on the practice squad ready to come up whenever the team suffers an injury to the running back room.
We previously predicted Zander Horvath as a potential cut to make room for Dotson. With that not happening, Horvath's space on the roster is 100% secured. Even though he may not have much of a role on offense, his special teams impact can't be ignored.
Wide receiver (6): Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Joshua Palmer, Quentin Johnston, Keelan Doss, Derius Davis
Keelan Doss is the surprising name that has jumped John Hightower. Hightower's injury before the second preseason game really slowed him down while Doss has more value on special teams, both as a backup returner behind Derius Davis and as a potential gunner on the punt team. Brandon Staley has historically valued special teams impact in these cases.
Tight end (3): Gerald Everett, Donald Parham, Tre' McKitty
Stone Smartt is the player that everyone wants to see make the roster and if it were up to us, he would. As bad as the tight end room has looked on offense, Tre' McKitty still played very well o special teams and that may be enough for the Chargers not to worry about the position.
The Cowboys had four tight ends for most of the 2022 season under Kellen Moore but they also did not have a fullback. If the team is keeping Zander Horvath around, it is hard to see them also keeping a fourth tight end that might just be a healthy scratch every weekend.
Offensive line (9): Rashawn Slater, Zion Johnson, Corey Linsley, Jamaree Salyer, Trey Pipkins, Foster Sarell, Jordan McFadden, Will Clapp, Zack Bailey
Brenden Jaimes has played really well for the Chargers in the preseason thus far but that has all been at the center position. The Chargers are unlikely to carry three centers (with Linsley and Clapp also on the roster), which makes room for Zack Bailey instead of Jaimes.
Interior defensive line (6): Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson, Morgan Fox, Scott Matlock, Christopher Hinton, Nick Williams
It does not look like Otito Ogbonnia is going to be ready for the start of the 2023 season, which has not changed from our last prediction. The only change here is Williams in place of Jerrod Clark. Williams not playing the preseason, and Clark playing most of the snaps, should be telling.
EDGE (4): Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, Tuli Tuipulotu, Chris Rumph
Nothing has changed at edge rusher, which looks to be one of the best position rooms on the entire roster. Not only are Bosa and Mack great, but both Tuipulotu and Rumph have shined in the preseason.
Linebacker (5): Eric Kendricks, Kenneth Murray, Amen Ogbongbemiga, Daiyan Henley, Nick Niemann
Blake Lynch gets the boot here in order to make room for other areas of the roster. If Kenneth Murray's hype is to be believed then the Chargers could have a really special linebacker room in 2023.
Cornerback (6): Michael Davis, J.C. Jackson, Asante Samuel Jr, Ja'Sir Taylor, Deane Leonard, Tiawan Mullen
Tiawan Mullen gets the rub here at CB6, which is not a popular prediciton for the Chargers' 53-man. Mullen played really well in the last preseason game of the year and he has been better on special teams than safety Mark Webb Jr, who he would essentially be replacing on the roster.
Safeties (4): Derwin James, Alohi Gilman, JT Woods, Raheem Layne
This is plenty of depth for the safety position, especially if the team keeps Webb around on the practice squad to bring up if necessary. Derwin James is one of the best in the sport while Alohi Gilman and JT Woods should be good enough to give the Chargers a solid outlook.
Special teams (3): Josh Harris (LS), JK Scott (P), Cameron Dicker (K)
Cameron Dicker winning the kicking battle is something we have all known for a long time now. Nothing changes here.