Free agency has just added another intriguing name to the talent pool.
The Los Angeles Chargers announced Saturday that the club has released two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Casey Hayward. The move saves L.A. about $9.75 million in cap space.
"When we signed Casey during free agency back in 2016, we felt that we were adding a starting-caliber corner who still had a considerable amount of unrealized potential," general manager Tom Telesco said in a statement. "Not only did Casey realize that potential in the years that followed, he exceeded our high expectations and became a prominent leader for our team both on and off the field.
"He started 75-of-78 games with us, was named to a pair of All-Pro teams, made two trips to the Pro Bowl, earned our 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination and has been a multi-year team captain. These type of well-rounded individuals don't come around very often, and we're incredibly fortunate to have had Casey Hayward on this football team the past five years."
A 2012 second-round pick out of Vanderbilt, Hayward spent his first four years with the Packers before signing a three-year, $15.3 million contract with the Bolts in March 2016. His signing proved immediately impactful as he went on to lead the NFL in interceptions (seven) and earn his first of back-to-back Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro nods.
As Telesco highlighted, Hayward served as a pillar of consistency throughout his time with the franchise. The 31-year-old turned in another solid campaign in 2020, appearing in 14 games (13 starts) and recording 41 tackles, eight passes defensed and one interception.
Hayward, who turns 32 in September, is coming off a late-season hamstring injury that landed him on IR, but he is a worthwhile target every CB-needy squad should take a hard look at this offseason.
"While the decision to add Casey to the team was obviously one of the best free agent signings we have ever made, this roster-related decision is one of the most difficult," Telesco continued. "At the end of the day, however, this decision does not diminish what Casey has meant to the Chargers organization nor our gratitude for his time here. Casey is the consummate professional and a shining example for everyone who aspires to play in the NFL."