Chargers Rumors

Ten Unsigned 2024 Draft Picks Remain

The NFL collectively is ahead of where it was last year with regards to draft signings. Teams have navigated the guarantee issue second-round contracts presented in recent years. Unlike 2023, when 30 players were unsigned in late June and nearly half the second round was without contracts entering July, we are down to 10 unsigned rookies from the 2024 class. Here is the lot still without NFL contracts:

Round 1:

Round 2:

Round 3:

The clearest difference between this year and last comes from the second round. On June 17, 2023, half the second-rounders were unsigned. The 2011 CBA introducing the slot system has removed most of the drama from rookie-deal negotiations, but second-rounders continue to make guarantee gains. This contractual component has complicated matters for teams in the past, but that has not been the case — for the most part — this year.

A number of 2021 second-round picks remain attached to their rookie deals. Those terms illustrate the improvements Round 2 draftees have made on that front since. The Jaguars did guarantee 2021 No. 33 pick Tyson Campbell‘s first three seasons; his fourth brought $50K guaranteed. This year, the Bills needed to guarantee nearly Keon Coleman‘s entire rookie contract. Coleman has three years locked in and $1.74MM of his $2.1MM 2027 base salary is guaranteed at signing. This year’s No. 59 overall pick (Texans tackle Blake Fisher) secured more in Year 4 guarantees than Campbell’s deal contains.

A sizable gap does exist between Coleman’s final-year guarantees and those of Falcons DT Ruke Orhorhoro (No. 35 overall). The Clemson product has $966K of his $2.1MM 2024 base guaranteed. This gulf has likely caused the holdup for the Chargers and McConkey, a player who — after the exits of longtime starters Keenan Allen and Mike Williams — stands to be a central figure in the Bolts’ first Jim Harbaugh-era offense. With the top players in Round 2 on the cusp of seeing fully guaranteed deals, McConkey can set another notable precedent while gaining some additional security for himself.

First-round contracts have only been fully guaranteed en masse since 2022, when Vikings safety Lewis Cine — chosen 32nd overall — secured those terms. Though, matters like offset language still have been known to slow negotiations. Extended holdouts into training camp no longer occur among rookies, with players risking the loss of an accrued season toward free agency — a product of the 2020 CBA — by doing so. Corley and Benson were this year’s top third-round picks. The 49ers gave No. 64 overall pick Renardo Green two fully guaranteed years. That has likely caused a holdup for the Jets and Cardinals, considering the progress made via contracts agreed to by earlier draftees.

Chargers’ Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa Discuss Pay Cuts, Hopes For 2024 Season

As part of the cap-strapped Chargers’ efforts to bring themselves into cap compliance before the new league year opened in March, the club released wide receiver Mike Williams and traded fellow wideout Keenan Allen. Edge defenders Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack also profiled as trade candidates, though both ultimately remained with Los Angeles on reworked contracts.

Those new deals were originally reported as restructures, which often means that void years are being added and/or that a player’s base salary is being converted into a signing bonus in order to spread out their cap charge and create more cap space in the upcoming year. However, as Daniel Popper of The Athletic notes, Bosa and Mack actually accepted pay cuts, and both players cited the talent of the LA roster as a primary reason for their decision (subscription required).

Mack, who is entering his age-33 season but who has never won a playoff game, stated that the club’s hire of new head coach Jim Harbaugh also factored into his willingness to take a pay cut. Mack said of Harbaugh, “he’s like a simple dude. He’s not going to tell you what you want to hear. He kind of just kept it real and told me, ‘Well, if we’ve got this many guys on each side, we can win.’ And he’s like, ‘We have this number now, and we can work on building some certain guys up or bringing certain guys in.'”

While the Chargers had a disappointing 2023 campaign, Mack himself was terrific, posting a career-high 17 sacks. He is under club control through 2024, and although he will be 34 if/when he hits the open market next offseason, a similar showing this year could allow him to land another lucrative multiyear pact. He also believes that, despite the misfortune that seems to plague the Bolts, and despite the loss of several top offensive performers, the Harbaugh-led outfit is well-equipped to make a postseason run.

“I know these guys, man,” Mack said. “They got what it takes in this locker room, starting with the quarterback. And then you got my guys on defense. It’s just a lot of different intangibles that you look for when you want to have a running mate and teammates. So just understanding these guys and knowing their capabilities.”

Bosa, meanwhile, is about to turn 29 and therefore has more time than Mack to experience playoff success. When discussing his own pay cut, he said simply, “I want to win. I want to be on this team. I want another shot with the guys in this room, especially [Mack]. … Winning football games is more important to me right now than making some extra money.”

While Bosa certainly wants to enjoy a championship season with the team that drafted him and is under club control through 2025, he is not due any more guaranteed money after the 2024 season. Given that, and given that he was nearly on the chopping block this offseason, it is certainly possible that this will be his last year with the Chargers, as ESPN’s Kris Rhim notes.

Like the Watt brothers, Bosa and his little brother, 49ers star Nick Bosa, have discussed the possibility of playing together. If that were to happen at any point in the near future, it would be in San Francisco, as the younger Bosa is under contract with the Niners through 2028. Per Rhim, those conversations have never been serious, but it seems both players are open to the possibility.

“It’d be cool at some point,” Joey Bosa said. “I always thought of myself being somebody that will play [with the Chargers] and retire here, which I think not many people do on one team and I think would be a cool thing to accomplish, but you never know. I’m going to worry about this year first. … I think we have a great opportunity here, and who knows, maybe I’ll have a great year this year and then things can change down the road.”

Minor NFL Transactions: 6/14/24

Friday’s minor NFL transactions:

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Signed: WR Praise Olatoke

New Orleans Saints

Olatake joins the Chargers offense as a member of the league’s International Player Pathway Program. Born in Nigeria, Olatoke was raised in Scotland before attending Ohio State as a sprinter in track and field. Olatoke clearly possesses next level speed, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors while posting a 10.27-second 100-meter dash time, but doesn’t have much competitive football experience. In fact, the Olatoke’s only experience playing football was on the Ohio State club team. Truly an inspiration for club players everywhere.

Brewer lands on injured reserve but does so without an injury designation. If Brewer plans to play in the backup role he held last year, he’ll now need to reach an injury settlement with the team in order to do so.

Chargers, S Tony Jefferson Agree To Deal

Tony Jefferson‘s comeback attempt has landed an agreement. Shortly after trying out with the Chargers, the veteran safety is signing a deal with the team, veteran insider Jordan Schultz reports. The move is now official.

Jefferson took part in Los Angeles’ minicamp aiming to secure a roster spot for at least the remainder of the offseason. Now, the Chula Vista, California native will look to carve out a role on defense and/or special teams with the Bolts. Jefferson last played with the Giants in 2022.

The 32-year-old established himself as a starter during his tenure with the Cardinals. He showcased a strength as a run defender in particular during that time, posting five sacks and six forced fumbles with Arizona. Jefferson landed a four-year, $34MM contract with the Ravens in 2017 and he remained a consistent first-team presence during his time in Baltimore.

Across 35 Ravens starts, the former UDFA posted a pair of interceptions and 12 pass deflections. His career was impacted by a 2019 ACL tear, though, and he was sidelined for the following campaign. A brief 2021 49ers spell led to a Ravens reunion, but that too was short-lived. After failing to survive Ravens roster cutdowns two years ago, Jefferson played under Don Martindale with the Giants.

By joining the Chargers, he has once again undertaken a reunion with familiar faces. Longtime Ravens executive Joe Hortiz is now the general manager in Los Angeles, and a number of staffers with connections to Baltimore are in place under Jim Harbaugh. That includes defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, who served as a DBs coach with the Ravens during Jefferson’s time there.

The latter worked as a scouting intern in Baltimore last season, but instead of a repeat in that capacity he will try and resume his playing career. The Chargers entered Friday with over $21.5MM in cap space, so adding Jefferson on what will likely be a one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum will not be burdensome.

Chargers Sign OT Joe Alt To Rookie Deal

The Chargers have officially locked in the fifth-overall pick. The team announced that they’ve signed first-round offensive tackle Joe Alt to his rookie contract.

A two-time first-team All-American, the 6-foot-8 Alt was widely considered the draft’s top offensive line prospect. The Notre Dame product was ultimately the second non-QB off the board (behind Marvin Harrison Jr.) when the Chargers selected him with the fifth-overall pick.

After playing left tackle in college, Alt is expected to slide to the right side of the line opposite Rashawn Slater. While Alt’s main priority will be protecting franchise QB Justin Herbert, the Chargers are also expected to lean more on the running game in 2024. Besides the team subtracting a pair of elite wideouts in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, new head coach Jim Harbaugh added Greg Roman before reuniting the new OC with RBs Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins.

With this signing, the Chargers’ only remaining unsigned draft pick is second-round wideout Ladd McConkey. Otherwise, the team has completed deals with:

Chargers’ Trey Pipkins In Line To Start At RG?

The Chargers’ decision to select Notre Dame tackle Joe Alt with the No. 5 overall pick in this year’s draft naturally displaced Trey Pipkins, who has served as the club’s primary RT over the past two seasons. The Bolts have no intention of moving Pro Bowl LT Rashawn Slater from the blind side, so with Alt now in the mix and possessing Pro Bowl upside of his own, Pipkins has been shunted to the interior of the line.

Still, head coach Jim Harbaugh recently called Pipkins one of his club’s five best O-linemen, thereby implying that the 27-year-old blocker would remain in the starting lineup. That appears to be the case, with Daniel Popper of The Athletic noting that, after the Chargers rotated the right side of their first-team OL during the first two open OTAs, Los Angeles had Alt taking all of the first-team RT reps during the latest open OTA, with Pipkins handling all of the first-team RG reps (subscription required).

Assuming that setup holds, the domino effect of the Alt selection would force 2022 sixth-rounder Jamaree Salyer — who started 14 games at LT in place of the injured Slater in 2022 and who settled in as the Chargers’ starting RG last season — to the bench. And that is likely an acceptable outcome for Los Angeles, as Salyer did not fare particularly well on the interior of the line after impressing on the outside as a rookie. In 2023, Salyer earned a mediocre 54.2 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, placing him as the 56th-best guard out of 79 qualifiers.

Pipkins did not fare much better as a right tackle than Salyer did as a right guard, with PFF ranking the former as the 50th-best OT out of 81 qualified players (though he did grade out as an above-average performer in terms of pass blocking). That was actually an improvement over his 2022 showing, at the end of which he was rewarded with a three-year, $21.75MM deal (to be fair, he did battle an MCL sprain throughout the 2022 season).

That contract was authorized by the Chargers’ prior regime, but Harbaugh clearly thinks highly of Pipkins, and it is certainly possible that his play improves by shifting to the interior. While he is under club control through 2025, he is not guaranteed any more money past the upcoming campaign, so a strong effort in 2024 could at least position him well to remain on the club and collect the $6.75MM base salary he is due in 2025, or even to land a new contract.

Chargers Release C Corey Linsley

Transactions with retired players for cap purposes have transpired this week. The Eagles moved Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox to their reserve/retired list, while the Buccaneers did the same with Ryan Jensen, who retired earlier this offseason. The Chargers are making a different move with Corey Linsley.

While Linsley is expected to retire, the Bolts are moving on via release. Chargers president John Spanos said Linsley “has taken his last snap in the NFL,” and this release will conclude the veteran center’s run with the Bolts. The Chargers will create a bit of cap space by making this move.

Linsley, the Chargers’ center from 2021-23, being cut after June 1 will create $1.2MM in cap savings for the team. Had the Bolts made this cut prior to June 1, they would have been hit with more than $5MM in dead money. Doing so now keeps the dead cap figure at $2.6MM, with the remainder of the money being pushed to 2025.

The Bolts and Linsley agreed on a restructure in February; that transaction dropped the veteran blocker’s 2024 base salary to the veteran minimum. That laid the groundwork for Wednesday’s release.

Linsley, 32, played in just three games last season. The Chargers placed the former Pro Bowler on IR after Week 3 due to a “non-emergent heart-related medical issue.” This abruptly halted a standout career for Linsley, who emerged from fifth-round pick to a player who once commanded a record-setting center deal. He was still playing at a high level when the medical issue transpired, having — per Pro Football Focus — not allowed a sack over his final 1,572 pass-blocking snaps. That covered his entire Chargers career.

The team, which changed coaches and GMs since Linsley last played, began its transition away from the talented center last season. The Bolts have since signed Bradley Bozeman, who is expected to transition from Carolina’s first-string snapper to the same role in Los Angeles.

After playing out his second Packers contract, Linsley signed a then-position-record five-year, $62.5MM deal to help the Bolts during Justin Herbert‘s rookie contract. Linsley joined Rashawn Slater and Matt Feiler as starter additions on the Chargers’ O-line that offseason. Slater remains in place as the Bolts’ left tackle to start the Jim Harbaugh era, while Linsley will transition away from the NFL after 10 seasons.

A Chargers team that needed to release Mike Williams to move under the 2024 salary ceiling will bump its cap-space figure beyond $27MM via the Linsley release. The team still needs to sign its first- and second-round picks (Joe Alt, Ladd McConkey), however.

S Tony Jefferson To Visit Chargers

News of Tony Jefferson‘s attempt to return to the NFL came with a report of teams showing interest. The veteran safety now has a tryout lined up with a potential suitor.

Jefferson will take part in the Chargers’ minicamp, per Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz. That will allow him the opportunity to earn a contract and the chance to compete for a roster spot during training camp in the summer. The 32-year-old last played in 2022 with the Giants.

That campaign was followed by a decision to hang up his cleats and join the Ravens’ scouting department. Now, Jefferson intends to land a new gig in the NFL, and a Chargers agreement would allow him to reunite with a number of familiar faces. Several former Baltimore coaches and front office members have joined head coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Joe Hortiz in Los Angeles this offseason.

That includes defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, who as expected was tapped by Harbaugh to carry on his current capacity after working under him at Michigan. Minter was with the Ravens from 2017-20, working as a defensive backs coach during that span. That allowed him to overlap with Jefferson during his time in Baltimore, and the upcoming tryout could pave the way for a reunion.

Los Angeles has Derwin James on the books with a $19MM-per-year accord, but none of the team’s other safety pacts come close in value. The Chargers – who did not add at the position during the draft – retained Alohi Gilman this offseason on a two-year, $10.13MM deal. Those two are positioned to continue as starters, but a depth role could be available for Jefferson. The Bolts allowed Jaylinn Hawkins to depart in free agency, and Dean Marlowe remains unsigned.

Entering Monday with over $26MM in cap space, the Chargers can certainly afford to take a flier on Jefferson. The former UDFA will all-but assuredly not represent an expensive acquisition for Los Angeles or any other teams which show interest in the near future.

Chargers To Sign OL Alex Leatherwood

Alex Leatherwood has barely been seen on a game field since his one-season Raiders partnership ended. The former first-round pick, however, did spend last season on the Browns’ practice squad.

Cleveland did not retain Leatherwood, but the former Alabama offensive lineman will receive another opportunity. The Chargers are bringing him in, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets. Leatherwood last saw action as a Bears backup during the 2022 season.

It is difficult for a team to fare worse in a stretch with six first-round picks than the Raiders did during the Jon Gruden-Mike Mayock drafts. Of the players chosen from 2019-21, only one (Josh Jacobs) has been a regular starter. Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette are out of the league, while Johnathan Abram has bounced around as a backup. Clelin Ferrell stabilized his career, to a degree, as a 49ers starter on a low-cost deal in 2023. The Saints and Commanders, respectively, signed Abram and Ferrell to one-year deals this offseason. Leatherwood became the quickest of those Raider first-rounders to wash out with his original NFL team.

Criticized for what was widely labeled a reach pick by selecting Leatherwood 17th overall in 2021, the Raiders used their first-rounder as a starting guard during their playoff campaign. The team moved the tackle prospect inside quickly, but Pro Football Focus viewed the rookie as the league’s worst O-line regular that season. The Josh McDaniels-led coaching staff kicked Leatherwood back outside during the 2022 offseason and then attempted to trade him. No trade partner emerged, and the Raiders waived Leatherwood. The Bears took on the former Crimson Tide starter’s contract, but a mononucleosis bout stalled his rebound opportunity. Leatherwood played 32 offensive snaps for the Bears in 2022 and did not make Chicago’s 53-man roster last year.

It will be interesting to see if a year learning under acclaimed O-line coach Bill Callahan in Cleveland will benefit Leatherwood, who is going into his age-25 season. The Chargers hired ex-Ravens assistant Mike Devlin as their O-line coach. He will be tasked with continuing Leatherwood’s development.

The Bolts are set at tackle, having drafted Joe Alt to go with Rashawn Slater, and they are planning to see how displaced RT Trey Pipkins looks at guard. The team rosters Zion Johnson as its other guard starter. Jamaree Salyer, who worked as a starting guard last year after filling in for Slater as a rookie, remains on the now-Jim Harbaugh-led roster as well. At this stage, Leatherwood profiles as a backup candidate. He joins Foster Sarell, 2021 fifth-rounder Brenden Jaimes, 2023 fifth-rounder Jordan McFadden and a host of rookie UDFAs as Bolts backup options up front.

Ravens Announce Several Front Office Promotions

Much like their roster and coaching staff, the 2023 Ravens saw their front office fall victim to departures for bigger jobs around the league, as well. Executive vice president and general manager Eric DeCosta announced seven promotions this week to help fill some of the new vacancies.

George Kokinis was the first staffer mentioned to take the next step up in his career. After spending the past five years as director of player personnel, Kokinis has been promoted to the title of vice president of player personnel. He is one of the longest-tenured staffers in Baltimore’s player personnel department and has worked in the NFL for 33 years. His tenure with the team technically dates back to when he was a scouting intern in Cleveland in 1991. He was invited by former owner Art Modell to join in the franchise’s move to Baltimore in 1996.

In 2023, the team had two directors of player personnel: Kokinis and new Chargers general manager Joe Hortiz. With Hortiz gone and Kokinis receiving a title bump, former assistant director of player personnel Mark Azevedo will step up into the role the former two once shared. Azevedo is another long-term staffer, joining the team as a player personnel assistant in 2005. In the past 19 years, Azevedo has worked his way up through the scouting department.

Former director of college scouting David Blackburn crossed the beltway to work with the Commanders, leaving the door open for former national scout Andrew Raphael to step up into the role. Raphael has been with the team for 10 years, joining as a player personnel intern in 2013. He will be joined atop the college scouting department by Joey Cleary, a nine-year Ravens staffer who served as a Southeast area scout for the past three seasons.

On the pro scouting side of things, Corey Frazier has been promoted to assistant director of pro personnel. Joining the team as a player personnel assistant in 2017, Frazier spent two years as a pro scout before working the past three seasons as the team’s West Coast area scout.

The team also named a couple of promotions in their analytics departments. DeCosta announced that David McDonald would be named vice president of research and development. McDonald has been in Baltimore for nine years, leading all software and data development aspects of the player personnel department as director of research and development since 2019.

Lastly, Derrick Yam was promoted to director of data and decision science after serving the past two seasons as manager of data and decision science. Yam joined the Ravens as a quantitative analyst in 2019 after earning a master’s degree in biostatistics from Brown University.