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Chargers stay dormant at franchise-tag signing deadline with free agency looming

Chargers stay dormant at franchise-tag signing deadline with free agency looming
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco speaks during a news conference at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Thursday. (Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

The Chargers have a history of not tagging their pending unrestricted free agents, and that history continued Tuesday.

The NFL’s window for tagging players closed without the Chargers making a move.

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They have used the franchise tag only seven times and only once since 2011.

Defensive end Melvin Ingram was tagged in 2017 before signing a four-year extension worth up to $66 million.

The Chargers’ list of free agents now includes defensive linemen Corey Liuget, Brandon Mebane, Damion Square and Darius Philon, defensive back Adrian Phillips, linebacker Denzel Perryman, wide receiver Tyrell Williams and tight end Antonio Gates.

Although the Chargers have varying degrees of interest in each of those free agents, the cost of tagging a player made such a decision financially imprudent.

A nonexclusive tag binds a potential unrestricted free agent to the team for one year if certain conditions are met. The player is guaranteed a salary no less than the average of the five highest-paid players at his position or 120% of the player’s previous salary, whichever is greater.

Of the Chargers’ free agents, Williams is the most likely to depart given the money he figures to be worth on the open market and the continued development of Mike Williams.

Square, Philon, Phillips and Perryman would seem to be the free agents the Chargers covet the most.

Gates, who will turn 39 in June, said after the season that he would like to return for another year. General manager Tom Telesco did not dismiss that possibility at the combine last week.

The Chargers announced in February that they would not exercise the option on Liuget, their longest-tenured defensive player.

The tackle was scheduled to make $4 million in base salary in 2019 but now will become a free agent next week.

Telesco did leave open the possibility of Liuget re-signing with the team.

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