Desperately in need of fresh salary-cap space, the Los Angeles Chargers on Tuesday parted ways with a trio of well-known players.
Former first-round offensive lineman D.J. Fluker, cornerback Brandon Flowers and wide receiver Stevie Johnson have all been released, the team announced.
Stuck with just $5 million in cap space, per OverTheCap.com, the Chargers needed to build up their cash reserves. With Fluker set to make $8.821 million this season, his release will do just that, while dumping Flowers saves roughly another $7 million. Cutting Johnson will add another $3.5 million to the books.
"Parting ways with men I've gotten to know and respect is the toughest part of this job," general manager Tom Telesco said in a statement released by the team. "Few players have shown the amount of passion and dedication that D.J. has shown for us the last four years. D.J. was the ultimate teammate who gave every ounce of effort he had to help our team. I will have great memories of D.J.'s time with the Chargers and wish him the best of luck with his career. And I want to thank Brandon for his contributions and his professionalism throughout his three years with us. I wish D.J., Brandon, Stevie and their families all the best in the future."
Taken 11th overall in 2013, Fluker was drafted to give the Chargers a plug-and-play starter at tackle. Instead, the 25-year-old has spent much of the past two seasons at guard, finishing 2016 as the league's 54th-ranked player at his position, per Pro Football Focus. As the metrics site noted, Fluker allowed 2.5 pressures per game at right guard and 3.2 per tilt at right tackle while failing to stand out as a run blocker.
While Fluker has been a disappointment, he offers size -- he's 6-foot-5 and 339 pounds -- and starting experience at multiple positions along the line. The former Alabama star joins a crop of solid free-agent lineman, with Kevin Zeitler, T.J. Lang, Larry Warford, Nick Mangold and Brian Schwenke all sitting out there as viable interior options.
Flowers spent the past three years in San Diego after signing as a big-ticket free agent in 2014. Injuries wiped out much of last season for the 31-year-old defender, who was limited to just six games in 2016 after re-upping with the team the prior offseason. The 30-year-old Johnson missed all of last year following meniscus surgery.
With the NFL's free agency negotiation period underway, we'll find out soon enough what teams feel about a trio of players the Chargers had seen enough from.