Los Angeles Chargers 2022 Offseason Preview


The Los Angeles Chargers entered the 2021 season with sky-high expectations. The Chargers put a lot of work in the offensive line ahead of Justin Herbert‘s second year and got perhaps the two biggest steals of the draft in Rashawn Slater and Asante Samuel. Unfortunately, the Chargers stumbled to a 9-8 record. Their struggles were on full display in the season finale against the Las Vegas Raiders. Many applauded Brandon Staley’s aggressive approach on fourth downs throughout the year, but in the season finale, it all came crashing down. The offense was excellent, but the defensive unit, the one Staley’s expertise is in, needs work heading into the 2022 season.

Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Offseason Previews.

Pending Free Agents

According to Over the Cap, the Chargers enter the offseason with over $56 million in cap space, good enough for fourth-most in the league. Los Angeles has 24 free agents, including the kicker, punter, and long snapper. Half of the free agents come on the offensive side of the ball, including five players that played over 50 percent of the offensive snaps, along with two more that played over 25 percent. Of the nine defensive free agents, seven played over 30 percent of the defensive snaps. A few positions will lose multiple players in their respective groups. 

Mike Williams

Both Williams and Jalen Guyton are unrestricted free agents. Both played over 50 percent of the offensive snaps, and Williams had the best season of his career. As a result, he’s in for a big payday. Williams posted career-highs in catches and yards while coming close to his career-high in touchdowns. With Los Angeles having the amount of cap room they have, it is safe to say that keeping Williams around is priority number one for the offseason so that he doesn’t go elsewhere.

Justin Jones

One of the biggest weaknesses on the roster for the Chargers last year was the run defense. That was pointed out in front of the entire nation in the regular-season finale against the Raiders as Josh Jacobs ran wild on the final drive. Jones could be the only holdover from the 2021 team to the 2022 season for the Chargers on their defensive line, as Jones, Linval Joseph, and Christian Covington are all free agents. Jones was seemingly the only one that could stop the run, and he recorded a career-high three sacks this season. Expect Jones to be back.

Uchenna Nwosu

Nwosu showed why the Chargers should re-sign him in the season-finale against Las Vegas. He had four tackles for loss and was seemingly everywhere on the field. The fourth-year pro turned in the best season of his career by totaling 40 tackles, a team-high eight tackles for loss, four pass deflections, and two forced fumbles. While the Chargers expect to dive into the pass-rushing class in either free agency or the draft, Nwosu will likely be the man opposite Joey Bosa for the Chargers next year.

Potential Cap Casualties

The Chargers will likely be in the top-five in cap space for the offseason. With that said, there are still some moves to clear up that would give them even more room to work with on the open market. While there weren’t many to choose from here, there were a few that stuck out. 

Bryan Bulaga ($10.8 Million Saved)

Bulaga is reported to be on the chopping block in the next few weeks. When the Chargers signed the former Packer to a three-year deal during the 2020 offseason, there was one question: could he stay healthy? The answer to that question has been a resounding no through two years of the contract Tom Telesco gave to the right tackle. Bulaga has only played ten games during his tenure in Los Angeles, including only one half of one this year. It would be a huge surprise if he were back for the final year of his contract. While the Chargers don’t have a backup plan with Storm Norton also being an unrestricted free agent, saving almost $11 million in cap space is something the Chargers need to do for this important offseason.

Michael Davis ($7.4 Million Saved)

Cutting Davis would likely make more problems for the secondary, but it is a move they may need to think on. Davis would save the team over $7 million in cap if they cut him but make the cornerback room an even bigger issue. The Chargers have a rising star in Samuel, but they also have Chris Harris as a free agent. With both Harris and Davis gone, that would leave Samuel and Tevaughn Campbell as the only players that the Chargers can trust to start the 2022 season. Maybe the Chargers could restructure his contract, but he is too important to the team to be released. 

Trey Pipkins ($1 Million Saved)

The right side of the offensive line will be a major issue heading into the offseason with Michael Schofield, Norton, and Bulaga all potentially gone. While it isn’t the biggest number out there, cutting Pipkins would give the Chargers even more cap space to work with, and it could go to signing either Schofield or Norton as holdovers for the 2022 season. 

Open Market Free Agent Targets

With so much cap space, the Chargers will likely be aggressive in keeping their players, specifically Williams. With that said, they could also make some runs at some of the more notable players on the open market, thanks to their cap room. Entering free agency, the Chargers have needs at tight end, the right side of the offensive line, the whole front seven of their defense, and cornerback. 

Al-Quadin Muhammad, Indianapolis Colts

It was noted earlier that the Chargers needed help in their pass-rush department, with Nwosu potentially leaving in free agency. With that said, even if they keep him around, it would be wise for Los Angeles to add another body to compete with him in a rotation. Muhammad is coming off the best season of his career, and while the Colts could re-sign him, maybe a team on the open market, like the Chargers, would be a better fit given the Colts spent a lot of capital at the position during last year’s draft. Muhammad wouldn’t cost a lot and would factor in as the third man in the rotation for the Chargers. 

David Njoku, Cleveland Browns

Jared Cook, Stephen Anderson, and Donald Parham are all free agents for the Chargers. Parham is an exclusive-rights free agent, so he’ll be back with the team, but that’s also depending on the freak injury he suffered against the Chiefs late in the season. Los Angeles did spend a relatively high pick on Tre’ McKitty, who could be in a bigger role next year, but adding a proven veteran to the fold like Njoku is an outstanding addition to the offense. With the Browns having an influx of talent at the position, Njoku will likely go to the open market, and the Chargers could offer him a deal he can’t refuse that gives him plenty of targets, similar to what Cook had during the 2021 season. 

Darious Williams, Los Angeles Rams

There have been plenty of times where a coordinator becomes a head coach, and players follow where he goes once he becomes a free agent. That could be the case here for Williams, a free agent following the Super Bowl. With Harris likely leaving, the Chargers desperately need another cornerback, and the familiarity between Williams and Staley could bring them back together. 

Previewing the 2022 NFL Draft

The Chargers have 11 total selections in the draft, with their selections in the first five rounds, followed by four sixth-round choices and two seventh-round choices. With such ammo late in the draft, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Los Angeles move up with some of those late-round choices on the second day of the draft. The Chargers are always an interesting team to watch during the draft, and that is likely to happen again with the number of needs on the roster as of right now. 

Round 1, Pick 17: Cornerback

While a defensive lineman could be the bigger need, in today’s NFL, you need to have three cornerbacks that can hold their ground. Staley knows how important that is, meaning a first-round cornerback is being discussed. The real question is, which one? Andrew Booth has been inked as the top cornerback by draft Twitter, but it seems as though the NFL is higher on both Ahmad Gardner and Derek Stingley. Another player that could be selected here is Trent McDuffie

Round 2, Pick 48: Defensive Line 

With a cornerback in the fold, now is the time to attack the defensive line. While Jordan Davis is an animal and well worthy of the selection in the first round, the Chargers can get better value in the second round. Two options here could be Devonte Wyatt or Travis Jones. Adding one of those two to the fold would help not only the run defense but the pass-rush as well. 

Round 3, Pick 79: Wide Receiver

With both Williams and Guyton as free agents, the Chargers could opt to let one walk, most likely Guyton if they do, and add another receiver on day two of the draft. Los Angeles did take Josh Palmer this year, but you can never have too many weapons for a young quarterback. Some receivers that could be available here for the Chargers include Skyy Moore, Wan’Dale Robinson, Kyle Phillips, Alec Pierce, Jalen Tolbert, Khalil Shakir, and Danny Gray

Early 2022 Expectations

The Chargers were a playoff team on paper last year. Ultimately, Los Angeles came up short. Los Angeles enters the offseason with plenty of ammo in cap space and holds plenty of draft capital to address their needs. In a division that contains Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, and potentially Aaron Rodgers and the Denver Broncos, Telesco and company need to make this offseason one of the best in recent memory for Los Angeles to make noise deep into the playoffs. 

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Main Image Credit:

Embed from Getty Images


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