“Chargers Get Value-Did They Fill Needs”
Everybody knew where the San Diego Chargers were weak last year, in fact most people have known for a couple of years. Can’t stop the run. Can’t get to the quarterback. Can’t cover consistently. When you are ranked 30th or worst in a bunch of defensive statistics, everyone needs to be blamed.
The front office finally addressed some of those needs in day one of NFL free agency, a mini-spending spree in San Diego, very different from the wild spending sprees the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants took part in.
But you have to know the philosophy of GM-Tom Telesco, spending to sign younger veterans with some upside still on their career curve, not spending foolishly on aged players headed to the twilight of their career.
Most critical was defense, and Telesco opted to bypass some bigger more costly names, notably Damon Harrison of the Jets.
The Bolts instead went for a shorter term, lower priced rental in Brandon Mebane, part of a pretty good defensive front with the Seattle Seahaws. He takes up space, ties up people at 6’1, 315, can still move, has 15-QB sacks in his career. He’s better than what they had on the roster at that spot. Keeping people off his linebackers was his job responsibility.
With the departure in the last two years of Eddie Royal, then the retirement of Malcom Floyd, and the failure of Jacoby Jones, the Chargers needed receiver help.
Travis Benjamin of Cleveland, is that and very much more. There is a consistency to his game, that wasn’t there with other guys. He had 68-catches last year, and in his four seasons with the Browns, he averaged over (15YPC). That’s impressive. So is the punt return average of (12.6) and the kick return average of (26YPKR).
He doesn’t fumble, he does create good field position, and he’s taken 3-returns back for scores. ideal for what they had to get.
Dwight Lowery is quick, tough, but really small to be a safety. He has gone from the Jets to Falcons to Colts, but does have 16-picks to his credit. More athletic than Eric Weddle, but surely not as beefy. Only time tells on this addition.
I would have preferred Browns Pro Bowl center Alex Mack, but San Diego was not willing to pay 9M a year for him. They can’t be willing to accept the play though of Trevor Robinson and Chris Watt, both who spent the season getting shoved back into the lap of thier quarterback. Maybe somebody else will show up.
They did re-sign Antonio Gates, but they lost tight end Ladarius Green to Pittsburgh. That’s a bunch of catches they’re not getting from other tight ends on the roster.
They did bring back Joe Barksdale, who was steady, and is affordable at 5M per season. But he is just a guy, and nothing more, and you will have the same issues you had the last day of the season. A poor offensive front, with lots of guys coming off injuries, and some off substandard seasons.
So day one is in the books. If I graded it out right now, Telesco gets a (B) grade, because two of the three free agents have proven they can do well at this level.
Now you have three high draft picks, and a chance to go get a quality cornerback from Florida State, Jalen Ramsey, or a big pass rusher in DeForest Buckner, or another offensive lineman, like Jason Spriggs.
It’s a good start, despite some recent past free agent failures by the Telesco-John Spanos team.
Oakland did well signing a rock solid offensive tackle and a pass rush outside linebacker. Kinechie Osemele and Bruce Irvin help alot. Give Oakland an (A)
But I guarantee you, San Diego had a better day than the Denver Broncos, who watched guys go out the door, or Kansas City, who lost two starting offensive lineman, then got slapped losing 2-draft picks for tampering with players. The Broncos, Super Bowl trophy in hand, had a (D) day….the Chiefs probably a (C) afternoon too.
1-day into their off season, the Chargers are a bit bettere now than they were before, but they have a long way to come from (4-12) to be a playoff team. They need some more good days still to come.