The Chargers went all in in 2023 with big names and big contracts. And it didn’t pan out. That’s why GM Tom Telesco and head coach Brandon Staley are out while Joe Hortiz and Jim Harbaugh are in. 

They got some tricky contract situations to sort out with guys like Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Khalil Mack, and Joey Bosa but the jump in salary cap this year should help some. Free agency opens next Monday with the legal tampering period on March 11 so things will be popping off very soon. 

Let’s take a look at the depth chart, contracts, and salary cap both for Chargers fans and fantasy football gamers to see if we can predict what might happen here.

*The salary cap numbers referenced in this article come courtesy of our friends over at*

Fantasy Football Depth Chart: Los Angeles Chargers


Justin Herbert

Easton Stick

Will Grier

Max Duggan

Running Back

Austin Ekeler

Isaiah Spiller

Jaret Patterson


Running Back

Joshua Kelley

Elijah Dotson


Wide Receiver

Keenan Allen

Derius Davis

Jalen Guyton


Wide Receiver

Mike Williams

Quentin Johnston

Simi Fehoko


Wide Receiver

Joshua Palmer

Alex Erickson

Keelan Doss


Tight End

Gerald Everett

Donald Parham

Stone Smartt

Nick Vannett

White = unrestricted free agent

Green = role is safe

Yellow = role could be in jeopardy

Red = could be traded or released





Justin Herbert: The Chargers landed a stud QB in the 2020 draft and they did the smart thing - locking him up long term. They made him (briefly) the highest paid quarterback in the league last July before he was surpassed by Joe Burrow

Playing in a division with Patrick Mahomes and in a conference with Borrow, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen etc. is never going to making winning easy but the individual performance Herbert has been good. If you sort every quarterback in the history of the league by fantasy points per game, Herbert is sixth all time. Now it’s time to put it all together with coaching and defense to hang some banners.

Easton StickThey took a stab on Stick in 2019 in the 5th round though obviously drafted Herbert a year later. He’s been in the mix at backup and was given the nod this year when Herbert went down. After posting and 0-4 record in those starts, the Chargers might want to look elsewhere. He’s an unrestricted free agent.  

Will GrierWill Grier has earned himself looks from multiple teams after he flashed with a four-TD preseason game last year. He couldn’t hang on with the Patriots, so the Chargers gave him a look. He’ll be in the conversation here but he’s an unrestricted free agent so not tied to the team.

Max DugganMax Duggan got some hype coming into the 2023 draft but slid all the way to the seventh round. Still, he’s now on a cheap rookie deal so he’ll be battling for a roster spot and potential emergency third QB duty. 

CHARGERS QB FREE AGENCY TAKE: If the Chargers really like Duggan, maybe he can be the backup. Otherwise, I think Easton Stick, Will Grier, and Max Duggan are in a contest here to see who can hang around as the third QB and developmental option. Here are some free agent options that Chargers can consider as the backup that would play if Herbert went down. And, maybe, if they start four games with Stick did last year, they win some of them.

POSSIBLE FREE AGENT QB OPTIONS: Gardner Minshew, Drew Lock, Sam Darnold, Jacoby Brissett, Mitch Trubisky, Carson Wentz

Running Back

Austin EkelerThe Austin Ekeler era is done in Los Angeles. And not just because he wants to get paid, but his services aren’t an exact match for what Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman want to do. Look at the four years of Greg Roman with Frank Gore in San Francisco - he does not like dumping the ball down to the back.  Ekeler was great for Joe Lombardi, who LOVES dumping it down to the running back (his Denver Broncos led the league in RB targets, as expected). But Ekeler has quietly never had a 1,000 yard rushing season and Harbaugh is definitely a “pound the rock” kind of guys.

As for Ekeler, he can either try to be the lead back somewhere or he can jump into a split backfield as the pass down back. Maybe a reunion with Joe Lombardi though that would crush the fantasy value of both Ekeler and Javonte Williams. Ideally in free agency Ekeler avoids some of the true rushing QBs so the Ravens, Eagles, or Bears wouldn’t be ideal but teams like Chiefs, Titans, Vikings, Panthers, or Commanders might work. 

Joshua KelleyJoshua Kelley has gotten a number of opportunities here to carve out a roll as the bruiser back or even start games with no Ekeler. And he’s been fairly inefficient based on most metrics. I think it’s time the Chargers went an entirely different direction here at the top of the depth chart. 

Isaiah SpillerAs the only running back under contract you would think Spiller has the red carper rolled out for him here but, like Kelley, he hasn’t impressed in his two years with the team. In fact, he was a healthy scratch at times last year which is a condemnation both of his on offense and his lack of contribution on special teams. 

Harbaugh is going to be ruthless in his direction of the team and finding guys that fit his mold so I would not be surprised to see Spiller released in favor of guys with that textbook Harbaugh physicality. 

Elijah DotsonDotson is interesting in this regard - Tom Telesco was fired as GM in December and the new GM, Joe Hortiz, extended him a reserve/futures contract. So that at least tells you the new regime is interested in having him compete for a roster spot. Starting RB might be a bit of a pipe dream but it’s a start. 

Jaret PattersonThe Jaret Patterson contract on the other hand predates the arrival of Jim Harbaugh and Patterson doesn’t quite fit the mold. I expect him to be released. 

CHARGERS RB FREE AGENCY TAKE: The Chargers have some work to do here, that’s for sure. At best they have three guys at the backend of the depth chart but my prediction is that most of these guys are gone. We’ll focus on the best options for a hardnosed Jim Harbaugh approach. 

The salary cap is the issue for the top backs, but I’ll include them anyway in case the Chargers can make some cuts and move some money around. They might need to settle for the lower end of the spectrum of draft someone however (like Blake Corum, who played under Harbaugh in Michigan). 

CHARGERS RB FREE AGENT OPTIONS: Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, Gus Edwards, Ezekiel Elliott, AJ Dillon, D'Onta Foreman


Wide Receiver

Keenan AllenLast offseason, in the midst of rumors he could be released, Tom Telesco said Keenan Allen isn’t going anywhere. He said that he was their Charlie Joiner, who played with the Chargers until he was 39 years old. Well, Tom Telesco is out as the GM. 

The Chargers need to find money somewhere and there are some big contracts for guys like Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Khalil Mack, and Joey Bosa. Before he got hurt, Allen was essentially playing the best football he has ever played last year so I imagine the Chargers will try to re-work his deal before outright releasing him. I expect Allen to be back.

Mike WilliamsIt’s a little more dire for Mike Williams. Not only does he not have the resume of production Keenan Allen has, but he’s coming off a torn ACL. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams literally have the two highest cap hits of any two wide receivers in 2024. I would not be shocked to see Mike Williams released. 

And, despite the injury, he would essentially be a top five WR immediately in free agency. Tee Higgins was tagged so you basically have Mike Evans, Michael Pittman, Calvin Ridley, Marquise Brown then who? Curtis Samuel, Tyler Boyd, Kendrick Bourne? Mike Williams would likely get paid again fairly quickly. 

Joshua PalmerPalmer was drafted by the Chargers in 2021 in the third round and worked his way into a role as the third fiddle. With all the injuries to Keenan Allen and Mike Williams in recent years, the third fiddle in Los Angeles as to play a lot of fiddle. Given that Quentin Johnston needs time to develop and didn’t exactly light the world on fire, Palmer would be the biggest beneficiary of one or more of Allen or Williams gone. 

Quentin JohnstonJohnston was always a high risk, high reward pick. He’s got the size and contested catch ability but was seen as a raw player that needed some development. With the way the contracts are shaping up, he’ll need to develop fairly quickly as he didn’t really flash when thrust into a starting role last year. 

You can’t just give up on guys after their rookie seasons, but Johnston was playing 80-90% of the snaps down the stretch and only cracked 52 yards once. That said, Justin Herbert was also out for a lot of those games, so the jury is still out. 

Derius DavisDerius Davis returned every single punt for the Chargers and every kickoff but one. He’s a valuable piece for them and he was a fourth round pick last year so they have him under contract on a cheap deal for three more years. He didn’t make much of an impact on offense but maybe his role can grow. 

Alex EricksonAlex Erickson has primarily been a return man in his career but with Davis on the team his services are a bit redundant. He’s probably gone in free agency. 

Simi FehokoThe former Cowboys signed on with the Chargers but, despite the injuries, he only caught one pass last year. He can be cut for a million in savings with no dead cap, so he’ll need to make the team from scratch with the new regime. 

Jalen GuytonGuyton has long served as the field stretcher for LAC, but he’s been fairly inefficient. With Johnston on the team now he’s likely gone in free agency. 

Keelan DossDoss is an exclusive rights free agent which means they could keep him for just under a million if they want. But he’s low on the totem pole with a new regime coming in so he’s another guy on the outside looking in. 

CHARGERS WR FREE AGENCY TAKE: The hard truth here is that the Chargers currently have good wide receivers under contract, but they need to shed contracts to make things work. So, they are in no position to go out and spend up on free agent wide receivers. They either renegotiate with their guys or cut them and fill those spots with cheap options. The draft is their best bet.


Tight End

Gerald EverettEverett was never really a full-time player for the Chargers - he only played more than 70% of the snaps in four games and he never played more thna 80%. He’s more of a slot guy than he is an every-down inline tight end. So, he probably finds a new home in free agency while Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman look for an every-down, two way inline tight end.

Donald ParhamParham has been a darling of the dynasty community given his size and touchdown potential, but the reality is that he’s primarily been used as a blocking tight end. Perhaps the new regime views him as an every down guy and this is his moment?

Stone SmarttI actually quite like Stone Smartt as a stash in deeper dynasty leagues. He’s a former quarterback who converted to wide receiver who converted to tight end. Both of his parents were college basketball players. And his full name is Stone Cole Smartt. Can’t be a coincidence right? He flashed his athleticism on a 51 yard TD this year so we’re holding on where possible. 

Nick VannettNick Vannett is your prototypical blocking tight end. He’s an unrestricted free agent and Parham can handle those duties so I don’t expect him back under the new regime.

CHARGERS TE FREE AGENCY TAKE: This team is hurting for cap space and guys like Dalton Schultz and Hayden Hurst will likely be out of the budget.. There are rumors of the Chargers looking at high end draft prospects - perhaps even Brock Bowers. If they want two-way tight ends in free agency that are in the price range, here are the options. 

CHARGERS FREE AGENT TE OPTIONS: Dalton Schultz, Noah Fant, Austin Hooper, Harrison Bryant, Colby Parkinson

NFL Free Agency Previews

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