Not long after the Chargers fired Tom Telesco and Brandon Staley, one of the duo’s key defensive investments will follow the power duo out the door. The Chargers are waiving defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports. The team has since announced the move.
The team gave Joseph-Day, a former Rams regular, a three-year, $24MM deal in 2022. No guaranteed money remained on the contract post-2023. This move will undoubtedly generate interest among contending teams, though Joseph-Day’s vested-veteran status will not keep him off the waiver wire due to the trade deadline having passed. It will cost the Bolts more than $3MM to cut the sixth-year veteran now.
Joseph-Day, 28, has started throughout his Chargers tenure, proving durable along a defensive front that has lost pieces in each of the past two seasons. Joseph-Day has started 30 games as a Charger. This season, the veteran interior D-lineman has matched his career-high with three sacks while establishing a new career-best mark with 11 QB hits. The latter number betters Joseph-Day’s previous top mark by five.
Pro Football Focus grades Joseph-Day as a mid-pack interior D-lineman, slotting him just outside the top 60 at the position. That represents an improvement from his 2021 placement but comes after he played a key role alongside Aaron Donald in Los Angeles. A former sixth-round pick, Joseph-Day boosted his free agent stock by starting for multiple Rams teams. Though, a chest injury kept Joseph-Day out of action for much of their Super Bowl-winning 2021 season. Joseph-Day returned in time to be activated for Super Bowl LVI but only played three defensive snaps that night. That did not blunt his offseason momentum much.
Joseph-Day resided as one of the NFL’s better run defenders prior to his 2021 injury, leading to the Chargers’ investment. Staley had pushed the front office to supply him with defensive upgrades in 2022. A number of regulars came in. Joseph-Day joined Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson as high-profile additions, while Kyle Van Noy and Bryce Callahan came over and played regularly as well. But it is safe to say the Chargers will be making major changes to their non-Justin Herbert setup going forward.
This move comes shortly after the Chargers fired their defensive line coach. The team axed D-line coach and run-game coordinator Jay Rodgers not long after the Staley and Telesco firings. The Chargers, who have again seen Joey Bosa miss a stretch due to injury, rank 29th defensively. They are better against the run, ranking 18th (as opposed to 30th against the pass), and have seen a rejuvenated Mack notch 15 sacks; that matches the former Defensive Player of the Year’s career-high total. But Staley’s troops could never be relied upon during his tenure, ranking outside the top 20 on the whole in each of his three seasons.
Joseph-Day is due a nonguaranteed $7.5MM in 2024. The Chargers have paid out most of his $6.5MM base salary this season; only $1.15MM remains on the contract for the season’s remainder. While that might give some teams pause, Joseph-Day’s track record and a manageable 2024 salary may not allow him to reach free agency. Joseph-Day joins Justin Houston, Jason Pierre-Paul and Marcus Peters as longtime defensive starters waived recently.
Staley hired Rodgers in 2021, bringing him over from Chicago, where he served as the Bears’ defensive line coach for six years. Rodgers also resided as the D-line coach under John Fox in Denver, coaching in Super Bowl XLVIII. The ex-Fox/Vic Fangio lieutenant will be in search of a new team for the 2024 season.