Chargers prepare for Free Agency and the NFL Draft

The 2023 NFL season ended less than four weeks ago, but for the Los Angeles Chargers there is no rest for the weary in the offseason. The 2024 NFL league year and trading period will officially get under way beginning on Wednesday March 13, with the 2024 NFL Draft to follow on Thursday April 25 through Saturday April 27.

NFL free agency will officially begin on March 13th, although teams can begin negotiations with free agents next Monday, March 11 at 9 a.m. PST and players can officially be signed by new teams on Wednesday, March 13, at 1 p.m. PST with the start of the new league year.

The Chargers need to be below the NFL team salary cap number of $255.4 million dollars by March 13th at 1:00 pm PST. The Chargers got started on that process on Tuesday, announcing the release of starting linebacker Eric Kendricks, a defensive captain. Kendricks was second on the team in tackles in 2023 with 117, with 79 solo tackles.

The release of Kendricks saves $6.5 million against the 2024 salary cap, which according to leaves the Chargers at $19.1 million over the salary cap. Cutting wide receiver Mike Williams would save $20 million against the salary cap and is likely the move they will make next week. That will get the Chargers under the salary cap.

Williams is coming off an ACL knee injury suffered in Week 3 of the 2023 season, will be 30 years old next season, and has one season left on his contract. It is not the ideal solution, just the most logical solution. There are other smaller cuts the Chargers can make to get further under the cap, and restructuring wide receiver Keenan Allen’s contract is a strong possibility to save salary cap space in 2024.

The Los Angeles Chargers, led by head coach Jim Harbaugh and General Manager Joe Hortiz, were in attendance for the NFL combine in Indianapolis last week and got the opportunity to interview NFL prospects. They also had a chance to see prospects go through their drills. Below is a best guess of what the Chargers might do in the first five rounds of the upcoming NFL Draft:

Round 1 – Brock Bowers, Tight End. The three-time All-American from Georgia is the No. 5 rated prospect overall on the Pro Football Focus (PFF) Big Board. This fills an immediate need at tight end. The Chargers interviewed Bowers at the NFL combine. The Chargers could also decide that a wide receiver like Marvin Harrison Jr. of Ohio State or a wide receiver like Rome Odunze of Washington are too good to pass up on.

Round 2 – Jordan Morgan, Offensive Tackle. The first-team All-Pac-12 tackle from Arizona tested well at the NFL Combine and could play right tackle for or move inside to guard for the Chargers. The Chargers need depth and competition on the offensive line. Current starting right tackle Trey Pipkins needs to improve. His contract numbers, with a base salary of $6.25 million and a dead cap charge of $9.50 million make it difficult to cut him this season. Adding Morgan will strengthen the right tackle position and add competition.

Round 3 – Kris Jenkins, Defensive Tackle. Jenkins played for Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Jesses Minter at Michigan. Jenkins was a second-team All-Big Ten selection at defensive tackle for the Wolverines in 2023. His father was a three-time All-Pro in the NFL at defensive tackle.

Round 4 – Blake Corum, Running Back – Harbaugh wants to run the football and adding his star running back at Michigan will help. Corum can run inside and is a good receiver out of the backfield. Corum could fall to the 4th round due to an unimpressive 4.53 in the forty at the combine.

Round 5 – Anthony Gould, Wide Receiver – At Oregon State, Gould was an explosive wide receiver despite his size (5-foot-8, 175 pounds). Gould ran a 4.39 forty at the NFL combine. He can line up at any of the three wide receiver positions (X,Y,Z) and he can return punts as well.

The Chargers will need to fill some positions through free agency, and I think they will find a starting center in free agency and find help at cornerback through free agency.


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