The 2022 season ended on a disappointing note for the Los Angeles Chargers. They finished the year 10-7 and found themselves looking up at the Kansas City Chiefs in the standings. But they did make the playoffs, where they blew a 27-0 lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Wild Card round.
That game exposed everything wrong with the Chargers, the lack of depth at key positions, gaping holes in the secondary, etc. Don’t be surprised if a lot of the team’s offseason moves are aimed at addressing those flaws.
Solving their salary cap riddle is task No. 1 for Los Angeles. They’ll start the new league year in the red, more than $20.5 million over the cap. That’s going to require some tough decisions about who from the current roster is going to be on the team in 2023. Two names likely under scrutiny are wide receiver Keenan Allen and edge rusher Khalil Mack. Together, those two take up close to $50 million in cap space this year.
Whether they keep Allen and Mack, restructure those contracts and some others, the Chargers aren’t going to be active in free agency until they’ve spent some quality time with the calculator and making an honest assessment about their spending priorities.
LA Chargers free agency preview
Players to target
One thing working in the Chargers' favor is that they don’t have a long list of players ticketed for free agency this year. One player they would be wise to hang onto is right tackle Trey Pipkins, who really started to put it all together in his fourth year in the league. Linebacker Given their need for depth up front on defense, it would be a shame to lose the team’s leading tackler, linebacker Drue Tranquill. He stepped up when injuries wreaked havoc on the front seven.
Among the outside targets, a veteran linebacker like Anthony Barr or Lavonte David could bolster that unit, giving them a three-down linebacker with the experience to lead the group. Even at 33, David is likely to command big bucks on the market, so that might be a reach. Still, he’s one of those players who could reshape this defense overnight.
Someone like cornerback James Bradberry from the Eagles would be a great addition next to Asante Samuel Jr. He’d give the Chargers two solid starting corners, vastly improving their pass defense.
Parting ways with Keenan Allen, who battled health issues last season and missed seven games, is probably a solid move. Ideally, it would give the Chargers room to upgrade their wide receivers, preferably bringing in a speedy playmaker to complement Mike Williams and Josh Palmer. Jakobi Meyers is probably priced out of the picture given L.A.’s cap situation. Still, aim high, right?