Chargers Rumors

Chargers Sign Rashawn Slater 

Northwestern alum Rashawn Slater is officially in the fold. Per a team press release, the Chargers’ first-round offensive lineman has formally signed his rookie deal. 

[RELATED: Vikings Wanted Slater At No. 14]

The Bolts took Slater No. 13 overall, beating the Vikings and other interested clubs to the punch. The son of former eight-year NBA veteran Reggie Slater, Rashawn started 37 games at either left or right tackle between 2017 and 2019. This included a sophomore season where he earned Third-team All-Big Ten honors. Slater also fared well against Chase Young in their final matchup of the 2019 campaign, not allowing the ex-Buckeyes phenom to record a quarterback hit when they were matched up. Despite shifting from right to left tackle as a junior, Slater did not allow a sack in eleven games that year.

Slater managed to maintain his high draft stock despite sitting out the 2020 campaign. Some say the 305-pounder lacks the elite length needed for the outside. The Bolts disagree — they’ll use him at left tackle. They’ll be counting on him big time after watching quarterback Justin Herbert eat 32 sacks last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2021 Cap Space For All 32 NFL Teams

There are still plenty of quality free agents left on the board as we look ahead to training camp. Cornerback Steven Nelson, tackle Russell Okung, and longtime Legion of Boom leader Richard Sherman headline the list, along with accomplished edge rushers like Justin Houston, Melvin Ingram, and Olivier Vernon. That list will only grow larger, of course, as more teams shed veterans to redirect their funds elsewhere.

With that in mind, here’s a look at every NFL team’s cap situation, starting with the league-leading Jaguars:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars — $32.7MM
  2. Denver Broncos — $28.9MM
  3. New York Jets — $28.5MM
  4. Cleveland Browns — $20.6MM
  5. Los Angeles Chargers — $19.9MM
  6. Detroit Lions — $17.9MM
  7. San Francisco 49ers — $17.8MM
  8. Cincinnati Bengals — $17.4MM
  9. Washington Football Team — $16.7MM
  10. Indianapolis Colts— $14.3MM
  11. Carolina Panthers— $14.3MM
  12. Minnesota Vikings — $13.5MM
  13. Pittsburgh Steelers — $13.1MM
  14. New England Patriots — $13.1MM
  15. New Orleans Saints — $11.4MM
  16. Arizona Cardinals — $11.3MM
  17. Buffalo Bills — $10.5MM
  18. Baltimore Ravens — $8.8MM
  19. Atlanta Falcons — $8.6MM
  20. Seattle Seahawks — $8.3MM
  21. Tennessee Titans — $8.3MM
  22. Kansas City Chiefs — $7.9MM
  23. Los Angeles Rams — $7MM
  24. Chicago Bears — $6MM
  25. Dallas Cowboys — $6MM
  26. Miami Dolphins — $5.3MM
  27. Green Bay Packers — $5MM
  28. Houston Texans — $5MM
  29. Las Vegas Raiders — $3.3MM
  30. Philadelphia Eagles — $3.2MM
  31. New York Giants — $2.4MM
  32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — $489K

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Unsigned First-Round Rookies

After the Falcons inked first-round tight end Kyle Pitts to his rookie deal earlier today, there are eight first-round rookies who remain unsigned:

1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB (Clemson)
2) New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB (BYU)
3) San Francisco 49ers (from Texans via Dolphins): Trey Lance, QB (North Dakota State)
13) Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater, OT (Northwestern)
14) New York Jets (from Vikings): Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL (USC)
15) New England Patriots: Mac Jones, QB (Alabama)
25) Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams): Travis Etienne, RB (Clemson)
26) Cleveland Browns: Greg Newsome II, CB (Northwestern)

This isn’t a huge cause for concern, as first-round contracts are pretty standard and by-the-book. However, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler has an explanation for why at least a handful of these players still haven’t put pen to paper. According to the reporter (via Twitter), there are still some “wrinkles to work out” for the notable quarterback deals. This sentiment would presumably apply to each of the top-three picks, and it could even be referring to Patriots first-round quarterback Mac Jones.

There’s a number of minor details that agents could be pushing for, including signing bonus terms or any other contract language that goes beyond the standard, boilerplate options. On the other side, teams could be pushing for some type of offset language, meaning the organization would get some financial flexibility if the player for some reason doesn’t finish their rookie contract with the team.

When it comes to the quarterbacks, most of the agents are probably waiting to see how Lawrence’s deal unfolds in Jacksonville. Alternatively, if Bill Belichick and the Patriots (somehow) give in to any demands from Jones camp, you can bet the top-three QBs would argue for similar benefits. While there are a number of reasons why the other, non-QB players have yet to sign, one could guess that the two offensive lineman may be pushing for similar terms (Vera-Tucker could also simply be waiting for his teammate to sign their contract). Etienne is in a unique position as one of only two first-round running backs (or, like Vera-Tucker, he could be waiting for his teammate), while Newsome recently fired his agent.

The teams and the players will want the contracts settled prior to training camp in late-July, but that still leaves a few weeks for negotiating.

Chargers RB Austin Ekeler Discusses New OC Joe Lombardi

With Joe Lombardi now serving as the Chargers offensive coordinator, it’s easy to assume that the offense will see a handful of changes. While the running game will surely see some new wrinkles, running back Austin Ekeler is confident that he’ll have another chance to lead a successful running backs corps.

“I think that’s something that I’ve learned about Joe coming in like this man is going to get his playmakers in space and situations where they can be successful,” Ekeler said during an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio (via NFL.com’s Kevin Patra). “I think you see that as far as the running back position with Kamara with the Saints. They would give him the ball any way they could, and he was making plays. And it just depends on me, right? As far as, hey, if coach is going to trust me with the ball, my hands are going to make sure I make it work, make him right. If I don’t do that, we got a lot of other talent on the team too. So I like it, ’cause it’s putting the pressure on me. I love that ’cause now I’m betting on myself to go out there and make plays. I have no doubt about that.”

Ekeler mostly served as backup during his first few seasons in the NFL, but following a breakout 2019 campaign where he finished with more than 1,500 yards from scrimmage (and with Melvin Gordon officially out of the picture), the 26-year-old finally had an opportunity to start full time in 2020. Unfortunately, Ekeler was limited to only 10 games, and his 530 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown were his lowest marks since his rookie season.

The team will return a similar running back depth chart in 2021, with Ekeler leading a grouping that includes returnees Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley (plus sixth-round rookie Larry Rountree III).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ten First-Round Picks Remain Unsigned

This year, NFL teams have been quick to tackle their rookie paperwork. Still, there are a decent number of unsigned draft picks remaining, including ten of this year’s first-rounders: 

In a sense, this is a sign that things are back to normal in football following the pandemic. For example, by June 12th of 2019, 22 first-round picks had put pen to paper, with 222 rookies inked on the whole. However, around this time last year, there were just two first-round picks officially in the fold – Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Panthers defensive lineman Derrick Brown.

Offset language and similar minutia could be holding these ten deals up, but there’s no reason to panic. In all likelihood, these rookie contracts will be squared away before the start of training camp this summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers Sign TE Matt Seybert

The Chargers announced a handful of signings on Friday morning. Tight end Matt Seybert, defensive lineman Willie Yarbary, linebacker Damon Lloyd, and wide receiver Michael Bandy will all join the team’s 90-man offseason roster.

[RELATED: Derwin James On Track For 2021]

Seybert, Yarbary, and Bandy played together for a time with the Conquerors of the Spring League. Seybert, a Michigan State product, caught 26 passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns in 2019, his final year on campus. Yarbary, who played his college football at Wake Forest, has been fighting for his chance while playing for multiple non-NFL pro leagues. Bandy, a University of San Diego alum, registered 163 grabs for 2,850 yards and 26 touchdowns between his 2018 and 2019 seasons for the Toreros.

The top of the Chargers’ TE depth chart is well set, thanks to new addition Jared Cook. But, beyond that, there should be at least one spot potentially available for Seybert.

Derwin James Receives Full Clearance

Injuries have sidetracked Derwin James‘ career, preventing the former first-round pick from building on his rookie-year All-Pro performance. The standout Chargers safety has played in five games since receiving that acclaim.

The Chargers still picked up James’ fifth-year option, however, and the fourth-year veteran is set to return to work. Brandon Staley said James has received full clearance to participate in workouts, via NFL.com’s Omar Ruiz (on Twitter). James suffered a torn meniscus during Bolts training camp last year, sidelining him for the entire 2020 season.

[RELATED: Chargers Exercise Derwin James’ Fifth-Year Option]

In 2019, a foot injury sidelined James for 11 games. The Florida State alum played 16 games as a rookie, delivering one of the best seasons by a first-year defender in NFL history. That helped the Chargers to a 12-4 record. The team has gone through some changes since, the Staley hire chief among them.

The Bolts entered last summer with four first- or second-team All-Pros in their secondary, but the group did not spend too much time playing together. Los Angeles lost Chris Harris for a chunk of last season, and Desmond King was traded ahead of the October deadline. Casey Hayward is now out of the picture as well. The Chargers, however, are on the verge of having the centerpiece of their secondary back at work. That should aid Staley’s effort to recharge the Bolts’ defense considerably.

James recorded 105 tackles, 3.5 sacks, three interceptions and tallied 13 passes defensed in 2018. The Chargers have been waiting for him to return to form for a while now. While the wait continues, James is back in position to contribute on the field.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/18/21

A roundup of today’s mid-round draft pick signings:

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

Pittsburgh Steelers