When evaluating an NFL team that went 7-9 in 2012, finding dead weight to cut from the roster would seem like a fairly simple task. In the case of the San Diego Chargers, there are several names that come lead the list as far as players likely to be elsewhere in 2013. The Bolts as of right now have an estimated $8.7 million in cap space heading into the year, but they have the potential to have much more room when free agency begins. Here are some of the cap casualty candidates.
Antonio Garay – The nose tackle leads things off not because he was the biggest underachiever in 2012, but because the Bolts have a player waiting in the wings to take his place. Garay signed a two-year back-loaded extension prior to last season so the bulk of his money will come off of the books if released. Cam Thomas is more than ready to assume full-time duties on the nose as Garay only suited up for eight games last year accruing a sack and 16 tackles. His release will save $5 million on the 2013 cap number.
Eddie Royal – Clearly he wasn’t even the biggest bust at his position last season, but he spent the majority of the year dealing with some kind of injury and that doesn’t set a good first impression. He signed a three-year, $13.5 million contract last offseason and is due $3 million in non-guaranteed money in 2013. Releasing him would free up $1.5 million in cap space and that seems highly probable.
Takeo Spikes – While he didn’t underachieve per-say on the field, Spikes is scheduled to earn $3 million in base salary in 2013 and at 36 years of age with limited snaps, he just isn’t worth it. He has said that he wants to play in 2013 and would like to stay in San Diego. A restructure is more likely and his $3.7 million cap number in 2013 would be significantly reduced.
Robert Meachem – The punch line of the joke is Meachem who certainly failed to live up to expectations. With Vincent Brown hopefully returning at 100 percent in 2013, he will join Danario Alexander and Malcom Floyd to make a pretty formidable trio of weapons for quarterback Philip Rivers. Meachem needs to take a significant pay-cut if he wants to stay with the Bolts in 2013 because the $5 million in guaranteed base salary that he is scheduled to receive is far too much. If he refuses to take a cut, the club should just accept their failed investment, cut him loose, and take the nearly $11 million cap hit.
It’s never pretty trying to clean up the mistakes of a past regime, but new General Manager Tom Telesco and Head Coach Mike McCoy are certainly going to give it their best shot to fix things sooner rather than later. If the team can make some of these suggested moves, there could be significantly more cash to play with in free agency. Don’t be surprised if the Bolts make a splash or two in a few weeks when the signings begin.