A.J. Smith’s $14 million mistake was among the San Diego Chargers’ final cuts. The Chargers released 11 players on Saturday, including wide receiver Robert Meachem, to get down to the 53-man roster limit.
After signing a four-year, $25.9 million deal with $14 million guaranteed last offseason, Meachem was a colossal disappointment, catching just 14 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns last season. After dropping a potential game-winning touchdown in a loss to the Cleveland Browns midway through the season, Meachem was phased out of the offense and went on to catch just two passes over the final 10 games. This offseason, despite all the injuries to the receiving core, Meachem couldn’t make his way up the depth chart. He’s reportedly looked lost in Ken Whisenhunt’s system, and didn’t do much in preseason, even against second and third-stringers. Even Seyi Ajirotutu, who signed two weeks ago, was able to get on the field with the starters ahead of Meachem.
Meachem also suffered a concussion in Thursday’s preseason finale.
The Chargers will still have to pay Meachem his 2013 $5 million guaranteed base salary. He counts $6.875 million against the salary cap in 2013 and additional dead money in 2014.
General Manager Tom Telesco and the new Chargers’ regime continue to distant themselves from the mistakes of the A.J. Smith era. They also took a steep cap hit by cutting left tackle Jared Gaither in May, who played in just four games after signing a four-year, $24.6 million deal last offseason. The releases of Gaither and Meachem send a message to that team that external factors like money won’t save your job in San Diego; if you’re not one of the best 53 players on the team and don’t try to be great, you have no place on this football team.