SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 1: The San Diego Chargers huddle together during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on November 1, 2012 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
As expected, the NFL salary cap for the 2013 season is going to be $123.9 million, up about $2.3 million from last season. With the way things stand right now, the Chargers should be between $8 million and $9 million under that number. So, expect some serious moving and shaking in the next few weeks.
NFL teams can sign free agents starting March 12. This year, the league is granting a new 3-day period leading up to that day for teams and players to negotiate (something they were doing anyway, just now it's not against tampering rules that were never enforced in the first place).
The Chargers have an entire Draft class to sign, and a gaggle of free agents to either re-sign or replace. San Diego has 24 unrestricted free agents to address. Tops on the list will be both starting defensive backs (Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason), sack leader Shaun Phillips, defensive end Vaughn Martin, and both starting offensive guards (Luis Vasquez and Tyronne Green).
Some players will be released to make more cap space (Antonio Garay is a likely candidate, which would save $5 million against the cap), and others will be asked to restructure their current deal to create even more wiggle room (Philip Rivers has said he's willing to do it).
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethsliberger restructured his deal do save $6 million against the cap, freeing up enough money to sign another lineman to keep him upright. Big Ben will still see all his money, and be healthier in the process. That's just good business sense.
New general manager Tom Telesco has a big task in front of him. Having more money to spend will certainly help.