With the end of every preseason comes a dreaded time for many NFL hopefuls: roster cuts. As a rule, every NFL team must go into the regular season with 53 players on their roster. Every NFL team loads up on players during training camp and preseason to try out potential diamonds in the rough. However, once the preseason ends, the players who did not “make the cut” get cut. Oftentimes, the decisions to cut certain players will make sense to most. However, others can serve to baffle or even upset fans. With the final list of cuts and practice squad signings, let’s take a look at who’s in and out. These are the Chargers’ roster cuts takeaways.
Tyron Johnson, prior to the NFL offseason, was the heavy favorite for the WR3 spot behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Through a combination of repeated injuries, declining play, and breakout candidates for his job, General Manager Tom Telesco determined that it was in their best interest to let him go. Telesco and Co. likely believe that Jalen Guyton and rookie Josh Palmer will be more than sufficient to replace Johnson. However, Johnson, affectionately known to fans as “T-Billy”, being cut left a nasty taste in the fans’ mouths. After news of his cut surfaced, any post on social media related to the Chargers was flooded with comments about Johnson.
Although there were legitimate reasons for being cut, Johnson was still a starting-caliber receiver in an unfavorable situation. This was proven by his near-immediate signing by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Since Chargers fans still love T-Billy, it’s safe to say that fans will still be rooting for his success in Jacksonville.
Cole Christiansen is a linebacker who was a tackle machine for the Chargers this preseason. Through the preseason, Christiansen was second to rookie teammate Nick Niemann in tackles. With 19 tackles (15 solo), it had appeared that he had surely earned a roster spot, if at least to fill out the depth chart. However, Telesco and Co. thought otherwise, releasing him and signing him to their practice squad. In the end, Telesco opted to go with rookie linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga. Amen played limited snaps in preseason, putting up 4 tackles (2 solo) in week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams. It’s likely that Telesco is banking on Amen’s potential over Christiansen’s.
Christiansen’s release likely won’t get talked about, especially because he was signed to the practice squad, but not having him on the active roster is not ideal. He is a talented linebacker that earned his reps in the preseason.
The Money Badger is no more! Michael Badgley, the Chargers’ kicker for the past three years, was released in a surprising move. Badgley, with a career field goal completion percentage of 80%, was being touted as a potential savior for the Chargers’ dismal kicking situation. However, after a poor season performance in 2020, where he only made 24 of 33 field goals (72.7%), the Chargers started looking for potential replacements. They found one this preseason in Tristan Vizcaino, who made 2/3 field goals in the preseason.
The move is certainly questionable, as the Chargers are essentially throwing all of their eggs in one basket. With Badgley, they had familiar mediocrity, but who’s to say that Vizcaino ends up being even worse? Sure, the bar to surpass Badgley isn’t very high for Vizcaino. However, as it stands, the Chargers’ special teams, especially the kicking, are still a major concern.
While these three were players that were surprise cuts, some possibly not deserving of it, that’s not to say all of the cut players were undeserving of it. Some examples of players that were rightfully cut were outside linebacker Jesse Lemonier, who spent much of the preseason either committing penalties or playing poorly. Another example is wide receiver Joe Reed. Reed wasn’t particularly bad, rather a victim of an unfortunate situation. As is with Tyron Johnson, the Chargers are simply too deep at wide receiver, and “those who don’t make the cut get cut”. Reed will likely be able to get a workout with another team, possibly one who needs a receiver. These were the Chargers’ roster cuts takeaways.