Los Angeles Times
Cap issue or not, Telesco says Allen stays
Chargers GM will look at other options to make the team financially compliant.
INDIANAPOLIS — In January, Tom Telesco said he had no interest in parting ways with wide receiver Keenan Allen as the Chargers work to become salary cap compliant.
The general manager reiterated that opinion Wednesday at the NFL combine as the team remains more than $20 million over the cap.
“Keenan Allen isn’t going anywhere,” Telesco said, squelching speculation that cutting the veteran wide receiver is an option being considered.
NFL teams have until the new league year begins March 15 to get under the cap.
The Chargers are one of 13 teams that still need to make moves to align with the league’s financial parameters for the 2023 season.
They are expected to do so without having to release any of their biggest-name players.
A third-round draft pick in 2013, Allen has spent a decade with the Chargers and trails only Antonio Gates in several of the franchise’s alltime receiving categories.
Appearing on the NFL Network earlier Wednesday, Telesco compared Allen to Hall of Fame wideouts Andre Reed and Charlie Joiner.
“He’s an incredible football player,” Telesco said. “We have a great quarterback. We need weapons around him.”
Allen, Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer give quarterback Justin Herbert three productive wide receivers. The Chargers have finished sixth, second and third in yards passing in Herbert’s first three seasons.
Allen has two years remaining on his latest contract extension, with salary cap hits of $21.7 million in 2023 and $25.8 million in 2024, according to overthecap.com.
The idea of cutting him surfaced in January following the Chargers’ loss in the AFC wild-card round at Jacksonville. During his after-season news conference, Telesco said he felt no temptation to release Allen for financial reasons.
“Good players make money,” he explained then, “and I would rather have a lot of good players on our roster than a lot of cap space.”
The Chargers will have a new offensive coordinator in 2023, with Kellen Moore replacing Joe Lombardi, who was fired after the season. Under Moore, the Chargers will be looking to increase their creativity overall and effectiveness running the ball.
He will be the third offensive coordinator for Herbert in four years with the team, a pattern of instability that extends back through Herbert’s time in college at Oregon.
“Justin’s really bright,” Telesco said on the NFL Network. “So I’m not worried about that.”
Herbert also is coming off surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, an injury that did not cost him any game time. Though the situation is not considered serious, the Chargers have yet to put a timeline on Herbert’s availability for offseason workouts.
Without making any significant cuts, Telesco and the Chargers will need to manipulate some existing contracts to free salary-cap space. Edge rusher Joey Bosa’s deal is one that could be restructured.
Among the players who could be salary cap casualties, left guard Matt Feiler appears to be the most likely. That move would save $6.5 million, according to overthecap.com, and open a potential starting spot for Jamaree Salyer.
After they become cap compliant, the Chargers won’t be in a financial position to pursue any big-ticket free agents as they did last offseason.
They also have several significant internal free agents and could be left relying on younger players to fill the gaps next season because of limited spending capacity.
Depth has been an issue with this franchise’s rosters in recent seasons and again could be a concern based on how the next several weeks unfold.
The free-agent negotiating period opens March 13, with players eligible to start signing deals two days later.
How the markets set up for players such as right tackle Trey Pipkins III and linebacker Drue Tranquill will help determine the Chargers’ ability to re-sign any of their free agents.
Their group of unrestricted free agents also includes cornerback Bryce Callahan, safety Nasir Adderley, defensive lineman Morgan Fox, linebacker Kyle Van Noy and wide receiver/kick returner DeAndre Carter.