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Chargers 2024 Offseason Primer: A Look at Cap Space, Free Agency & Draft Picks

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With the 2024 NFL League Year set to start Wednesday, here's where the Chargers currently stand in terms of free agents, salary cap space, draft picks and possible positions of need.

2024 Free Agents

The Chargers have 25 players eligible for free agency when the 2024 League Year officially begins at 1 p.m. (PT) on March 13.

Players can fall into one of three free agency groups: unrestricted free agent (UFA), restricted free agent (RFA) or exclusive rights free agent (ERFA).

Here's a breakdown of each group:

UFA: Any player with four or more accrued seasons and an expired contract; free to negotiate and sign with any team.

RFA: A player with three accrued seasons and an expired contract. RFAs are free to negotiate and sign with any team, but their original team can offer them one of various qualifying offers ("tenders") that come with the right of first refusal and/or draft-pick compensation.

ERFA: Any player with fewer than three accrued seasons and an expired contract. If his original team offers him a one-year contract at the league minimum (based on his credited seasons), the player cannot negotiate with other teams.

Get a behind-the-scenes look as Jim Harbaugh is formally introduced as the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers on February 1st, 2024

The Bolts free agency group is a mix of players who were starters in recent years, as well as players who held predominantly reserve roles on the roster.

The Chargers have 20 UFAs, two RFAs and three ERFAs right now. Here they are by group:

UFAs: Essang Bassey, Will Clapp, Michael Davis, Austin Ekeler, Alex Erickson, Gerald Everett, Alohi Gilman, Will Grier, Jalen Guyton, Jaylinn Hawkins, Justin Hollins, Austin Johnson, Joshua Kelley, Dean Marlowe, Kenneth Murray, Jr., Tanner Muse, Easton Stick, Cameron Tom, Nick Vannett and Nick Williams.

RFAs: Blake Lynch and Amen Ogbongbemiga

ERFAs: Zack Bailey, Keelan Doss and Raheem Layne

The Chargers on Friday tendered offers to Cameron Dicker and Foster Sarrell, both of whom were set to be exclusive right free agents.

Salary Cap Space

The NFL's official 2024 salary cap is set at $255.4 million.

As of Monday morning, the Chargers are currently projected to be roughly $21 million over the cap, according to Over the Cap, a site that tracks each team's approximate cap space.

2024 Draft Picks

The Chargers currently hold the No. 5 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, which will be held April 25-27 in Detroit.

The Bolts have eight overall picks, including a 2024 seventh-round compensatory selection that was awarded on Friday.

Picking at No. 5 is the highest draft position the Bolts have held since taking Joey Bosa third overall in 2016.

Hortiz was asked about the Chargers owning a top-5 pick in April's draft.

"I think you stick to the process of finding the best player," Hortiz said. "It doesn't matter where you're picking in the draft, it's always important. It doesn't matter if it's the fifth pick or the 32nd, every pick is important to this organization.

"If you put a value of importance on the pick number, you're doing it wrong," Hortiz continued. "Every single pick — our fifth pick is important, our second-round pick is important, our seventh-round pick is going to be important."

He later added: "We're going to go through the process and have them stacked and ranked and we're going to pick the best player for the Chargers at five."

Of course, there's always a possibility that the Chargers trade down from that spot, too. Hortiz covered that topic as well in his introductory press conference.

"I think those are options that you consider. Certainly, you have to have a partner to do something like that," Hortiz said. "We're a long ways away from the draft. Right now, I don't think anyone can tell you how the first five picks are going to go, the first 10 picks.

"We have a lot of time to figure that out and other teams have a lot of time to see if they're interested," Hortiz later added. "You have to be ready to pick at five, I know that. If there's one thing that I've learned, from anything in Baltimore, there are times when that phone doesn't ring and you better be ready to pick."

Besides holding the fifth overall pick, the Chargers are also slated to pick at No. 37 overall in the second round and No. 69 in the third round.

Take a look back at the best photos of the offense's 2023 campaign

Positions of Need Based on Free Agency

The Chargers will certainly have some roster turnover this offseason, especially with the more than two dozen free agents listed above.

With that in mind, here are a handful of position groups the Bolts might need to focus on in the coming months.

(Note: These positions are not ranked but instead listed in alphabetical order).

Cornerback

The Chargers only have a handful of cornerbacks under contract for the 2024 season, the most notable of which is Asante Samuel, Jr., who has started 43 games over the past three seasons.

Ja'Sir Taylor and Deane Leonard also fall into that group but they have primarily been special teams standouts through the first two seasons in the league.

With Michael Davis and Essang Bassey set to be possible free agents, the Bolts could add cornerback help in free agency and/or the draft.

Offensive line

There are multiple areas to focus on here.

The first is center, where Linsley's likely retirement leaves a huge void in the middle of the Bolts offensive line.

Will Clapp filled that role admirably in 2023 but he is also slated to be a free agent.

The Chargers could be looking for their center of the future.

Running back

This group has been led by Austin Ekeler the past few seasons, with Joshua Kelley serving as a capable backup.

Both players could hit free agency, leaving only Isaiah Spiller in the running back room.

Harbaugh has talked about wanting to "beef up" the run game going forward so keep an eye on this position group.

Tight end

Gerald Everett paced the Chargers with 966 total receiving yards over the past two seasons. And his hard-nosed running style could be something Harbaugh wants to keep around.

But with Everett and Nick Vannett both slated to be free agents, that could leave Donald Parham, Jr. and Stone Smartt as only holdovers in that room.

The Bolts might have to re-configure their tight end room by the start of training camp.

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