Kyzir White had a breakout season in Brandon Staley's first season as the head coach of the LA Chargers and to reward the linebacker the team let him walk for pennies. White agreed to a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, which at the time of reporting, was worth up to $5 million.
White's contract details emerged on Thursday and it became even more heartbreaking for Charger fans who wanted to see White return to the Bolts. The Eagles are only guaranteeing White $3 million in 2022 with $2 million in incentives.
The Chargers could have brought back a breakout linebacker for only $3 million. That is kicker money that White is getting and the Chargers passed on him. It is okay to be frustrated, and it is definitely okay to question the decision.
But why did the LA Chargers let Kyzir White walk for so cheap?
There are two main reasons, it appears, for the Chargers letting White walk for nothing. Both have to do with the defensive vision and the reinforcements that the Chargers have on the defensive side of the football.
Linebackers are not as valuable in the NFL when it comes to salary-cap spending and they are especially not as valuable in Brandon Staley's defense. The best version of Staley's defense is one where the box is empty. As the team transitions to a defense that is more in line with Staley's defense, we will see fewer linebackers and more defensive backs.
The team also is high on Kenneth Murray. Staley has, for better or worse, praised Murray several times in the past. LA even pulled Kyzir White off the field more often than they should of in Week 18 in favor of Murray, with Staley calling Murray the "best man-coverage linebacker" the team has on the roster.
Tom Telesco just spent two mid-round picks on Kenneth Murray, so the Chargers are going to try and force the issue with the former Oklahoma Sooner. That is part of the business. Why else did Jerry Tillery play so much last year? Why else did Brandon Staley drop a quote that makes it seem like he disagreed with letting White walk?
At the end of the day, the NFL only valued White as a $3 million linebacker, which could be a sign that Charger fans are overvaluing him as a player. If no other team in the league wanted to pay him more than $3 million then perhaps he is not as good as we say he is.
That is up for debate but one thing is undeniable: Kyzir White had a large net-positive impact on this defense that was worth far more than $3 million.