The Raiders weren't the only AFC West team to give up on a former first-round draft pick this week. Days after safety Johnathan Abram was waived in Las Vegas, the Chargers have followed suit, announcing Thursday they are releasing defensive lineman Jerry Tillery. Drafted 28th in 2019, just one spot ahead of Abram, the 26-year-old Tillery was absent from Wednesday's practice due to an undisclosed personal reason. Now, he's out of Los Angeles entirely.
"Jerry has been a valued member of our organization since arriving in 2019," Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said in a team statement, "and I want to thank him for all his contributions to the Chargers. This was not an easy decision, but after careful consideration, it was a necessary one that is in the best interest of both team and player. We wish Jerry all the best moving forward in his career."
Telesco's remarks suggest Tillery's departure was a mutual decision, and that the veteran's Wednesday absence had something to do with his split. The big man had been serving a rotational role in the Chargers' 3-4 defense this year, playing behind new addition Sebastian Joseph-Day, after manning a starting job for much of 2020-2021.
Tillery rebounded after a quiet rookie season that included just three starts, logging 14 quarterback hits in each of his next two years, and posting a career-high 51 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 2021. But he struggled against the run, with L.A. possessing one of the NFL's worst rush defenses prior to this year. In seven games this season, he totaled eight tackles and a single sack.
Like Abram, who was claimed by the Packers this week, Tillery will be subject to waivers upon his exit from the Chargers.