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Chargers unlikely to use franchise or transition tags on pending free agents

Chargers unlikely to use franchise or transition tags on pending free agents
Chargers nose tackle Brandon Mebane. (Eric Lars Bakke / Associated Press)

Tuesday marked the start of the NFL’s franchise and transition tag period, an early offseason stretch in which the Chargers are not expected to participate.

None of the team’s 13 pending unrestricted free agents is considered a prime candidate to be tagged.

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That list 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.

Though the Chargers have varying degrees of interest in each of their free agents, the cost of tagging a player makes such a move unlikely.

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.

The deadline for teams to tag players is March 5, eight days before the start of free agency.

The Chargers announced last week 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 March 13.

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

The Chargers have used the franchise tag only seven times and just once since 2011.

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

Also last week, the Chargers re-signed defensive back Jaylen Watkins to a one-year contract. He missed all of 2018 because of knee injury.

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