Los Angeles Chargers general manager Tom Telesco is in a rare and envious position entering the offseason. After hitting a home run by selecting Justin Herbert fifth overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, the franchise has a short window before a massive impending contract extension permanently impacts their salary cap for the duration of his career.
The good news is the Bolts have until 2025 before whatever contract Herbert eventually signs becomes an anchor on their cap situation as all other franchise quarterback contracts become. This gives the Chargers three seasons to go all in, similar to what their L.A. neighbors did as the Rams pushed all their chips in to win Super Bowl LVI.
Herbert isn’t going anywhere but up, so how can Telesco mimic Rams GM Les Snead’s approach to building a roster with his Chargers? Here’s one way the Los Angeles Chargers can have a Super Bowl offseason.
Chargers attract star wide receiver with enormous offer
Not only do the Los Angeles Chargers have one of the best quarterbacks in football, they also enter the offseason with the second-most cap space in the NFL.
This gives them a chance to sign some high-profile free agents, but there’s a specific way they can structure the contracts to help set them up for the future. To recruit the very best players available, the Chargers can afford to offer the most money up front.
Frontloading the deals allows the Chargers to have more money later, when Herbert’s contract will be due, leaving enough space to easily dole out an eye-popping dollar amount. This leaves enough room for Telesco to immediately play with while earmarking money for later. Especially in a future where the cap continues to soar like a Herbert laser through the SoFi sky.
Whether we’re targeting Davante Adams, Amari Cooper, Chris Godwin or another WR with the potential to become Herbert’s go-to receiver, there are several options for the Chargers to improve this offseason.
A California native, Adams would look great in a Chargers uniform forming a unique bond with Herbert for the next several seasons. He’d immediately offer a game-breaking weapon the offense sorely lacks. Of course there’s no guarantee the Packers are ready to move on from their top receiver, but several reports have suggested keeping him will be tough. And Aaron Rodgers could also throw a wrench into Green Bay’s plans, depending on his future playing status.
Patching up the Los Angeles Chargers’ woeful run-stopping D
As one of the better run-stuffing defensive tackles ever since receiving his first starting opportunity back in 2014, Brandon Williams has helped the Ravens lead a top-10 rush defense in all but two of his seasons as a starter. That includes a first-place finish a year ago.
There’s no guarantee the Ravens will allow Williams to leave as a free agent, but as of now having just $9.7 million to spend in free agency, plus a need to re-sign Lamar Jackson long-term, the front office might struggle to come up with a competitive offer for the big nose tackle.
This is where the Chargers can come in with a large contract offer that just might entice the 6-foot-1, 336 pound DT to switch teams. It’s obvious that improving in the trenches is a high priority for Tom Telesco and Co. this offseason, but how they go about patching a 30th ranked rush defense from 2021 remains to be seen. Meanwhile, landing Williams could be a simple solution without having to dip into their draft capital.
Chargers land top cornerback available
It’s being reported that J.C. Jackson wants to be the highest-paid cornerback next season. Based on his production with the Patriots, it’s probably justified. Yet other teams may be hesitant to pay him top dollar, let alone actually be able to shell out $20 million per season.
Not the Chargers though. They’re serious about adding talented players who can help improve Brandon Staley’s defense and they actually have the cap space to back it up.
They can entice Jackson with a heavily front-loaded contract that offers a ton of cash up front, while saving more on their cap later, when a likely Justin Herbert contract extension comes due.
He’d immediately become the No. 1 corner in Los Angeles and could even compete with Jalen Ramsey to be the best corner in all of L.A. For the Chargers, he’d give coach Staley a chance to adjust some coverages, trying to leave more defenders in the box in an attempt to shut down the opponents’ run game. This seems like a perfect pairing.
While this grand scheme may not exactly mimic how the Rams built their roster, mortgaging their future by trading top picks for stars, it places the Chargers a lot closer to reaching a Super Bowl. Next season if they feel they are just a piece away, they can then dangle future draft picks in a trade for an impact playmaker. For now, they should use their cap space wisely, with an eye on Herbert’s eventual contract extension.