Dead Money and the San Diego Chargers


A few weeks back, I wrote an article summing up the dead money totals the Dallas Cowboys may have hit their salary cap over the next few years (that post can be found here – however it is not updated to update Tony Romo’s new dead money totals). After writing that post, I thought it would be fun to take a similar look at different teams. Choosing a team at random for this one, I ended up going with the San Diego Chargers. For an explanation on the concept of dead money and its effect on a team’s salary cap, check out the second paragraph of the Cowboys post. Since Dallas is the only other team I’ve done a dead money post on, that’s the only team I can compare the Chargers to as of now (so don’t get too mad Cowboys fans!). Keep in mind that these costs are going to go up in the near future as draft picks sign their deals. Here’s how the Chargers’ dead money future looks:


Not much of a point in going in detail about the Chargers’ 2013 dead money count since the majority of these players will be on the roster anyway, thus meaning most of these players won’t actually result in dead money this year. For what its worth, San Diego currently has 37 players that would account for a total of $100,083,637. The average age of these players is 27.05 while the average age of the top 5 potential dead money hits (Robert Meachem, Derek Cox, Eric Weddle, Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates) is 29.4.


In 2014, the Chargers currently have 31 total players that could accumulate for a total of $55,321,917. Of those 31 players, 16 of them would have dead money totals of over $1,000,000 (the total dead money for those 16 together would be $50,062,186). The good news for San Diego is that of the 7 with the highest potential dead money hits, 5 of them will be under 30 that season:

Derek Cox (Age 27): $8,150,000

Eric Weddle (29): $5,200,000

Malcom Floyd (33): $5,083,334

Antonio Gates (34): $4,725,000

Melvin Ingram (25): $4,212,600

Robert Meachem (29): $3,750,000

Ryan Mathews (26): $3,267,000


In 2015, the Chargers have 17 players with potential dead money hits for a total of $19,382,920. The average age of these 17 players is 29.24. Once again, age is on the team’s side here as of the top 5 players, 4 are ages 30 and under (the oldest is Antonio Gates, 35). Here are the 5 highest potential dead money hits:

Derek Cox (Age 28): $2,600,000

Eric Weddle (30): $2,600,000

Antonio Gates (35): $2,362,500

Melvin Ingram (26): $1,922,169

Robert Meachem (30): $1,875,000

Compare that to the Cowboys’  20 players for $56,492,180 (prior to the Romo extension), with 8 of the top 11 potential dead money hits being age 31 and over, safe to say at this point the Chargers have done a better job with cap management.


The Chargers only have 4 players with potential dead money hits in 2014, for a total of $2,387,500. Those players are:

Derek Cox (Age 29): $1,300,000

Mike Scifres (35): $600,000

Nick Novak (35): $375,000

Mike Windt (30): $112,500

You really couldn’t ask to be in a much better situation dead money-wise down the road, so kudos to the Chargers for doing a great job of managing their potential accelerated costs. Just to compare further, the Cowboys have 13 players with potential dead money hits in 2016 for a total of $32,079,050 (again, prior to Romo’s deal), with only 3 of those players under 30. Of course, this in no way means the Chargers will be fielding championship, or even competitive teams in these upcoming seasons. It just means the Chargers will have a bit more flexibility since a large portion of their dead money is tied into younger players (meaning these players are less likely to be cut and as such, will not result in dead money acceleration). This is a great example of how some teams manage their cap well by giving themselves flexibility down the line, while others, well, just don’t.

To check out the Chargers’ salary cap projections, click here.

Twitter: @AndrewOTC