The San Diego Chargers wrapped up their entire draft class on Wednesday, signing first-rounder D.J. Fluker to a four-year deal worth $11.4 million. The deal includes a $6.6 million signing bonus, a fifth-year option, and offset language that will allow the Chargers to avoid paying the entire amount of guaranteed money if Fluker is released before the deal expires. Fluker is just one of six first-rounders to agree to or sign their rookie deals.
Fluker is currently penciled in as the team’s starting right tackle, though there has been talk about him moving to right guard. Wherever he plays, Fluker will be an instant upgrade and improve one of the league’s worst offensive lines.
What allowed the deal to get done was the fact that the Chargers collected an additional $4.5 million in cap space on June 1 due to the Jared Gaither release. With the June 1 designation, Gaither’s contract (base salary of $4.5 million) was effectively still weighing the Chargers down until last week when it finally came off the books. Still, Gaither will cost the Chargers $2 million in dead money in 2013 and $4 million in 2014.
Prior to June 1, the Chargers had less than $150,000 in cap room following the signings of Dwight Freeney and Max Starks.
With Fluker now signed, the Chargers have only about $2.2 million of cap space left, which means they are likely done signing any notable free agents. The emergency Freeney deal ate into the salary cap a little more than the Bolts would’ve liked, and General Manager Tom Telesco will likely sit tight on any major signings unless another catastrophic injury happens in camp.