San Diego Chargers wide receiver Danario Alexander was one of the few bright spots from a miserable 2012 campaign. However, the team’s best receiver might not be back in 2013.
The Chargers decided to place the lowest (original-round) tender on the 24-year-old restricted free agent. Alexander was undrafted, meaning the Bolts would receive nothing in compensation if another team signs him and the Chargers decline to match.
Signed off the street in October, Alexander immediately made an impact and developed a rapport with Philip Rivers. In 10 games, Alexander caught 37 passes for 658 yards and seven touchdowns. By season’s end, he was unquestionably Rivers’ favorite target. At 6-foot-5, 212 pounds, he has the athleticism and hands to develop into a top NFL receiver.
The Chargers may just be trying to figure out the market for Alexander. They will still have the opportunity to match any outside offer Alexander receives, but they allow other teams to dictate what San Diego would have to pay.
Had Alexander received a first-round tender, he’d play on a one-year, $2.88 million deal in 2013. If the team gave him a second-round tender, he’d play on a one-year, $2.02 million deal. The original-round tender given to Alexander will cost the team $1.33 million. General manager Tom Telesco and the team are essentially gambling that no other team signs Alexander so that they can save themselves a mere $1.55 million. And even if the Chargers do match an outside offer, they’ll most likely have to pay more than $2.88 million per year for Alexander’s services.
Alexander does have a history of knee issues, which could make NFL teams, including the Chargers, wary of offering Alexander a multi-year deal. But that’s exactly why a one-year, $2.88 million rental would have been good had San Diego simply given Alexander a first-round tender. We’ll see if this comes back to hurt San Diego when free agency begins on Tuesday.