The Los Angeles Chargers have a bright future with Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert at quarterback. L.A. will have nearly $24 million in salary cap space to re-sign players or add free agents, assuming a projected cap of $180 million.
Los Angeles will likely protect or re-sign tight end Hunter Henry, but the Chargers could free up additional space by parting with other players. With that in mind, here are three players who might not be playing for the Chargers in 2021.
1. Trai Turner, Right Guard
Trai Turner was recognized as one of the best guards in football from 2015-2019. He made the Pro Bowl 5 times with the Carolina Panthers, and the Chargers acquired him prior to the 2020 season in exchange for tackle Russell Okung. The deal has not worked out, as Turner didn't perform well in 2020 and missed six games with a groin injury. His PFF grade ranked 79th out of 80 guards. Despite the Pro Bowl accolades, Turner has never finished a season ranked higher than seventh among qualifying right guards in Pro Football Focus (PFF) grades. The Chargers will likely release him and save $11.5 million in cap space.
2. Dan Feeney, Center
The Chargers will almost certainly be filling a need at center with Dan Feeney set to be a free agent. He's mostly been a letdown since being selected in the third round of the draft in 2017. His overall PFF grade in 2020 was 48.2, ranked No. 35 among centers. L.A. needs to pursue an upgrade who will make Herbert better.
3. Casey Hayward, Cornerback
The secondary is the Chargers’ deepest position group. But with coaching changes and new schemes, both 32-year-old cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Chris Harris are vulnerable to be released as they head into the final year of their contracts. Cutting either one would save $9.8 or $7.5 million, respectively, in cap space. Letting a longtime defensive leader like Hayward go is not easy, but it's the cold business of the NFL. Coming off of the worst statistical season of his career while also dealing with a hamstring injury adds to his release potential.
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