Chargers release two defensive starters, clearing $9.5 million in 2020 salary cap space


The Los Angeles Chargers are one of the teams expected to undergo the most drastic changes during the 2020 offseason. The team has already announced that it will move on from longtime starting quarterback Philip Rivers. Running back Melvin Gordon is expected to move elsewhere. Left tackle Russell Okung was traded to the Carolina Panthers. 

And now, the team is moving on from two defensive starters. The Chargers announced on Friday afternoon that they’ve released linebacker Thomas Davis and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. General manager Tom Telesco released the following statement on the team’s official website.

“This is a difficult time of the year due to the tough decisions we are forced to make concerning the direction of our football team in 2020 and beyond. Oftentimes, these decisions hurt on a personal level. This is certainly one of those times. 

Even though Thomas only spent one year with us, he left an indelible mark on our organization. His passion, leadership, wisdom and toughness — I just can’t thank Thomas enough for his contributions to the Chargers, both on and off the field. 

Brandon has been a rock of stability on our defense and a respected team leader. I cannot overstate what he has meant to our locker room and organization, not to mention his hometown Crenshaw community. I want to thank Brandon for his consistency, on and off the field, and for always being a pro’s pro. He and his family will always be part of our Chargers family. 

Ultimately, you never know what the future will hold, but making these moves right now gives us flexibility entering the new league year.”

Davis signed with the Chargers last offseason after spending the first 13 years of his career with the Panthers. He started all 16 games for LA, recording a team-high 112 tackles. He turns 37 years old next week but should have a place somewhere in the league, assuming he wants to continue playing. 

Mebane signed with the San Diego Chargers in 2016 and played the past three seasons in Los Angeles with the team. He played and started 51 of 64 possible games in his four years with the organization, including 13 last year. He was a strong presence up the middle for the Chargers’ defense, particularly against the run. He turned 35 years old earlier this offseason, though, and the team drafted interior lineman Jerry Tillery in the first round last year. 

Combined, these two moves save the Chargers $9.5 million against their 2020 salary-cap charge, while leaving a combined $4 million in dead money on the books. The releases bring the Chargers to around $65 million in total cap space, per Spotrac, freeing them up to make a run at Tom Brady and other free agents to whom they have been connected in recent rumors. However, that number does not include Hunter Henry’s franchise tag, which will reduce the total by around $11 million.





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