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Los Angeles Chargers Free Agents: The Role Players – Who’s Coming Back?

This impending Charger free agent class has plenty of key role players that will be hitting the open market.

In the second installment of our Charger Free Agent series, we will look at the lesser-known guys in the class. Key starters were mentioned here. The guys covered here will be key Charger free agent role players. A good roster has a plethora of these guys, and the Chargers should look to see if they can keep the core of what the former regime built.

Remember during this exercise that the Chargers currently have -35 million in cap space after the Corey Linsley restructure. They must be cap-compliant by March 13th.

Los Angeles Chargers Free Agents: The Role Players

UFA: Michael Davis – 35% Chance of Returning

Impending Charger free agent, Michael Davis has had his ups and downs during his time in Los Angeles. Michael Davis has had a very odd career since being picked up as an undrafted rookie free agent. The rollercoaster of a career has had a weird consistency as it is always one year good, then one year bad. Rinse and repeat.

Right after Davis’ all-pro caliber 2022 season, he follows it up with an extremely awful 2023 season. He ranked 71/83 amongst all cornerbacks with 50% of team snaps in coverage grade. This was the Chargers’ cornerback #1 all season long. A change is likely to be made with the new scheme, regime, and cap space circumstances. That said, if his consistency of being up and down reigns true, Davis’ 2024 season should be a very good one.

If Jim Harbaugh and Joe Hortiz are superstitious enough, there is a reasonable chance for Davis to come back. He would be a cheap veteran who can be either an experienced depth or an okay CB2.

UFA: Alex Erickson – 65% Chance of Returning

After watching Alex Erickson take over as WR1 for the majority of the last four games of the year, there is more than an argument to be made for him to return. Erickson was a very reliable veteran receiver for both quarterbacks and is a very good depth piece at returner. Beyond this, he would likely be playing on a veteran minimum contract. Even if he is just a camp body, he gives Herbert another reliable pass catcher.

The former Bengal is aging and losing a step and is faced with a new regime. This is more than enough reason to let him walk. That said though, with his familiarity with Justin Herbert (who does have a say in roster control) Erickson looks like an easy Charger free agent to re-sign.

Fun fact: If Alex Erickson continued his week 16-18 pace throughout the full season, he would have ended the season with 62 catches for 923 yards. 

UFA: Jalen Guyton – 25% Chance of Returning

Jalen Guyton was a fan favorite in his early years with Los Angeles. He was also one of Justin Herbert’s favorite targets deep down the field. Guyton was known as a speedster who was developing his route-running ability. When it seemed to all come together for Guyton, he tore his ACL and missed a season and a half. When he came back, it was apparent that his speed and explosion are gone.

Couple that with a new regime and no cap space, Guyton is likely not to return. Justin Herbert and his say in the roster is really his only chance to make it back. Fans would argue that Erickson has played his way into the “Herbert likes me so I’m on the team” role over Guyton. Guyton was a very fun receiver to watch; hopefully, he gets a chance with another team.

UFA: Austin Johnson – 15% Chance of Returning

In the first half of 2022, Austin Johnson looked to be a very solid Charger free-agent signing. He eventually suffered a major season-ending injury, which led him to barely make it back to start in the regular season. He was not the same player. Johnson ranked 67/73 in overall defense grade and also ranked 70/73 in pass rush grade. (Amongst all interior defensive linemen with at least 50% of team snaps).

So, what reason could he be back? He seems to really enjoy playing for the Chargers, so there is at least one-way interest. Couple this with him likely playing close to veteran minimum and the Chargers desperately needing anyone and anything at defensive tackle, there is a likelihood that he can come back.

However, Hortiz and Harbaugh do possess a very intriguing young, inexperienced interior defensive line that could become something with playing time. Signing Johnson back would only hinder that development. These young guys really cannot be much worse than Johnson in 2023.

UFA: Joshua Kelley – 35% Chance of Returning

Joshua Kelley has no familiarity with this new regime and was not given many snaps in the back half of the season, despite performing better than leading rusher, Austin Ekeler. Kelley is also nearing the runningback age threshold where it is likely for him to already be on the decline. A full sweep of the running back position is likely.

Kelley had his best year with the Chargers in 2023 and now is likely looking for a pay raise. Unfortunately, the Chargers do not have any cap space to give him much but do desperately need a running back. Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman’s new run-heavy scheme obviously needs runningbacks. The Chargers currently only have the unproven Isaiah Spiller under contract. Kelley is not a terrible option to have as a depth option in your backfield. A one-year deal could be relevant.

UFA: Nick Williams – 50% Chance of Returning

Nick Williams was a late offseason addition to the Chargers in 2023, and he performed very well in Brandon Staley’s system. Williams gave the Chargers a nice rotational interior defensive linemen in 2023, and the Chargers will be looking for that again in 2024. Good performance, experience, and an inexpensive contract give Williams a solid shot at return in Los Angeles.

However, he just turned 34 as of the time of writing this (Happy Birthday)! Unfortunately, that is quite old in football terms, Harbaugh and Hortiz may look at that and play the young guys they already have under contract. Williams returning is pretty much a coin toss.


This impending Charger free agent class has plenty of key role players that will be hitting the open market. Erickson and Williams are logically the most likely to return, and even then face an uphill battle. A very poor amount of cap space, a new regime, and schemes indicate that the majority of non-immediate starters will end up leaving Los Angeles.

Main Photo: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports


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