Wilhelm Out, Beckwith In?

LB Matt Wilhelm (Chris Graythen/Getty)

The Chargers released LB Matt Wilhelm on Friday, the second time this offseason the team cut ties with a once-promising inside linebacker prospect. With both Wilhelm and Anthony Waters out, are Kevin Burnett and Darry Beckwith set to step in?

The timing of Matt Wilhelm's release worked out well for the player and the team. For Wilhelm, it gives him the chance to catch on with another team before training camps open around the NFL next week. For the Bolts, it allows newcomers Kevin Burnett and Darry Beckwith to get their full allotment of reps throughout training camp.

Wilhelm was clearly fighting an uphill battle in his quest to hold onto a roster spot. For one thing, he and Burnett have similar skill-sets, giving the team little incentive to keep both players. Additionally, the Chargers will save approximately $2 million with the move, although the team will take on roughly $1.05 million of dead cap space, according to Scout.com's Adam Caplan per a league source.


LB Darry Beckwith
Chris Graythen/Getty

Every remaining member of the inside 'backer corps now has a clearly defined role. Stephen Cooper, a three-down player, will start at left inside linebacker. Tim Dobbins will likely start on the right side and play on first and second downs, while Burnett will play in the nickel defense and against wide-open offenses. And Brandon Siler will resume his dual roles as a special-teams dynamo and goal-line specialist.

It also opens up a roster spot for Beckwith, who the Chargers stole from the undrafted ranks. Beckwith was projected to be a middle-round pick in this year's draft before concerns about his knees caused his stock to plummet. He hopes to become the latest contributing member of San Diego's LSU contingent.

"[Buster Davis and Jacob Hester] are guys I've played with and won championships with, so I am excited," Beckwith said.

And as for Wilhelm, his sizzled-out stint in San Diego throws into question A.J. Smith's sometimes overly proactive approach to handing out new contracts. In recent years, Shane Olivea, Clinton Hart and Jyles Tucker were given contracts the team would love to have back. Wilhelm's scrapped pact -- a five-year extension signed in 2006 -- can now be thrown into that mix, too.


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