5 biggest bargains on the Chargers’ roster

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One of Tom Telesco’s specialties has been his ability to maintain cap space.

This season was no different, as the thoughtful moves leading up to the offseason gave the Chargers enough room to sign impact players like Sebastian Joseph-Day and JC Jackson and trade for Khalil Mack.

Going into the 2022 season, there are still several bargain-value players on the roster. In my opinion, these are the five most significant values by cap hit for this season.

QB Justin Herbert: $7,248,751

This is the only player on a rookie contract I’m allowing myself for this exercise, but I couldn’t resist putting Herbert on here after the season he had in 2021. His 2022 cap hit for his third season is just 26th in the league among QBs, just ahead of the $6.5 million the Dolphins gave Teddy Bridgewater as their backup. With another elite season, Herbert could make the consensus elite tier of QBs alongside Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers. Their cap hit ranks for 2022? 2nd, 15th, 17th, and 5th, respectively. Of course, Herbert is extension-eligible next offseason, so this bargain will undoubtedly be off the table relatively soon.

TE Gerald Everett: $4,000,000

While Everett isn’t a world-beater at tight end, he is an upgrade over Jared Cook, whose 2021 cap hit was half a million dollars higher than Everett’s in 2022. A cap hit of $4 million is good for 21st among TEs, sandwiched between Chris Manhertz and Dallas Goedert. Of course, part of the reason for Everett’s low cap hit this season is that he signed a multi-year deal – his cap hit doubles in 2023 to $8 million. Even so, that’s currently slated to be the 16th highest among TEs, just below David Njoku. For a team needing a veteran presence at the position with Donald Parham and Tre’ McKitty still developing, that’s excellent value for a player good for a consistent 40+ receptions and 450+ yards every season.

DL Sebastian Joseph-Day: $5,000,000

The Chargers also benefit from SJD being in the first year of his three-year, $24 million contract, as his cap hits in 2023 and 2024 rise to $9 million and $10 million, respectively. Still, a 2022 hit of $5 million is 32nd in the league among defensive linemen, and his future numbers are below market value for the position. Part of this could be because Joseph-Day is tailor-made for the Brandon Staley defense, which isn’t ubiquitous across the NFL. That scheme limitation does hurt his value league-wide, but it also means that the Chargers get him at a lower price since they’re not bidding against the majority of the league.

EDGE Kyle Van Noy: $2,250,000

Van Noy was available as a free agent until early May, mostly because he was a Patriots cap casualty on the wrong side of 30. But the BYU product is still a productive, versatile player – one who figures to play a valuable role all over the formation for the Chargers in 2022. His cap hit is tied with Solomon Thomas for 80th highest among EDGE players, according to OverTheCap, a paltry number when you consider how much value he’s already added as a leader with a championship mentality, according to Brandon Staley. LA benefits from signing him late in free agency to a one-year “prove-it” deal, but that doesn’t negate the fact that it’s a steal.

CB Bryce Callahan: $1,047,500

This one is more complex than saying the Chargers got a starter in May for the veteran minimum. Because yes, Callahan should be the starter at slot corner as things currently stand. And yes, he’s been a quality player throughout his career. But whether or not this is truly a steal will come down to health – Callahan has never played every game in an NFL season, turns 31 in October, and now plays for a team so historically snakebitten by injury luck that it’s become a meme. On the bright side, Staley’s team-building philosophy has always put health first, and last season was one of the healthiest years in recent Chargers history. If that program keeps Callahan on the field, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to call him a bargain, especially if he plays up to the level he has throughout his career.