What the Danny Woodhead extension means for San Diego


Danny Woodhead inked a two-year extension to stay with the Chargers Tuesday afternoon. Woodhead’s initial two-year/$3.75 million dollar contract had to be one of the best bargains on the free agent market last season as he brought over 1,000 yards of total offense to the Bolts from New England in 2013. The move keeps the former Patriot in San Diego through the 2016 season.

While this news should be celebrated as Woodhead will no doubt be a huge part of the offense — giving the Chargers an unmatched versatility out of the backfield — it also brings up questions regarding Ryan Mathews future. The Chargers now have Woodhead and Donald Brown signed through 2016. Add to that, rookie 6th-round pick, Marion Grice, is signed through 2017, and Mathews doesn’t appear to be a player in the Chargers’ future plans. His contract option in 2015 was voided, making 2014 the last year the former Fresno State Bulldog is under contract with the Bolts.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean Mathews won’t be a Charger in 2015, but it is hard to see San Diego keeping four running backs moving forward. This is the unfortunate reality of being a running back in the NFL these days. Unless your name is Adrian Peterson, more often than not you will play out your rookie contract and have trouble finding a big pay day thereafter. Guys like Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice, and LeSean McCoy were exceptions, but moving forward, it appears teams are more than willing to keep drafting “plug in” backs as opposed to paying stars huge contracts.

Either way, Ryan Mathews needs to have a big 2014. He has now been put on notice by the Chargers, and if nothing else, he needs to put out good film to earn himself a contract somewhere in the NFL next offseason.

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  • OPBolt

    Sorry Alex, I don’t think the Woodhead contract extension and the upcoming decision on Ryan Mathews are related. Their roles are too dissimilar. In reality, like with linebackers, Mathews is an inside running back and Woodhead is an outside running back. Now that doesn’t mean Mathews doesn’t sometimes catch passes or run outside, nor does it mean that Woodhead never totes the rock up the middle, so there is a small venn diagram overlap, but the strengths of each are distinct and different.

    Now, Donald Brown and possibly Marion Grice/Brandon Oliver/next year’s draft may weigh very heavily on the decision regarding Mathews. However, if Mathews has a good year and is not injured, my opinion is that the Chargers would rather resign him for the money Brown is getting, release/trade Brown, and go with this year’s number three inside back.

    • Alex Cusick

      OPBolt, I think you bring up a lot of valid points. While a future contract definitely depends on Mathews performance this year, it will also depend on Grice/Oliver’s ability to play in the league. I would tend to agree Mathews is a potentially top 10 back in this league who clearly does a lot of different things than Woodhead.

      The one thing I will disagree on is, trading or cutting Brown. A trade would be nice, but rarely is there a market for aging backs with a fairly significant contract. Keep in mind, Knowshon Moreno only got a 1-yr/$3 million dollar deal this FA season, and he was one of the top backs available. Cutting Brown would result in over $2 million dollars of dead money in 2015, over $1 million in 2016. Tom Telesco is way to smart to leave that kind of money counting against his cap.

      Thanks for your comment, we will see what this year brings. And hopefully the Chargers are able to keep both Mathews and Woodhead while still letting the younger backs begin to develop. Go Bolts!