The Chargers first year back in Los Angeles went out with a whimper, but then it never really got off to a bang in the first place. Located in an out of the way soccer stadium that held just 27,000 fans, the Chargers games were only a must-see spectacle for LA transplants who’s home team were in town. Denver fans took over the place, so did Eagles fans. There was hardly a Chargers jersey in sight.
On the field the Chargers were less of a team and more a collection of players. They started the season 0-4 in classically heartbreaking Chargers fashion, only to rally hope for their few fans and then fall at the final hurdle. While Philip Rivers had another strong season and their edge duo of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, but there were some huge holes in the team that need to be fixed going into 2018.
The Chargers have a reasonable $33.3 million in cap space coming into this offseason, but with players like Matt Slauson to re-sign and holes at linebacker, offensive line, and in the secondary to plug it might not stretch all that far. If they wanted to create more cap space, which veterans could find themselves looking for a new home?
Brandon Mebane, DT – save $4.5 million
The Chargers allowed an NFL-worst 4.9 yards per carry last season, so cutting a big-name defensive tackle doesn’t seem like a wise move at first. However, Mebane was one of the big reasons why the Chargers were so poor against the run. His level of play dipped steeply in 2017, and at 33 it is unlikely to pick up.
The Chargers are likely to target interior defensive line and run-stoppers in free agency and the draft, which means clearing out the position for newcomers, and the first go should be Mebane.
Travis Benjamin, WR – save $4.5 million
The idea of Travis Benjamin has long been better than the actual reality of him. A speedy, fluid athlete he has never produced in line with his tools. While at first that could be put down to being in Cleveland, since his release from football hell in 2016 he has not put up anything close to a meaningful season.
He has registered just 81 catches in his two years with the Chargers, despite playing 30 of 32 games, and while he has amassed a reasonable 15.4 yards per catch, that amounts to only 1,244 yards, or 41.5 yards per game. With 2017 first round pick Mike Williams likely to play a big role in the offense in 2018, along with Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry, there seems little reason to spend so much on someone who is only a role player.
Hayes Pullard, ILB – save $705k
Another one of the reasons for the Chargers terrible run defense was poor play at inside linebacker. With injuries limiting Denzel Perryman’s playing time to barely more than a quarter of the season there were plenty of snaps to go around, and plenty of time to see who could play and who could not.
One of those that got time and proved to be far from productive was Pullard, who started ten games and struggled to make an impact on the inside. Perryman is going to be restored as the starter for 2018, and Pullard is likely to make way for new blood thanks to his lack of dead money.
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