“Chargers-Get Better-Get Younger-Get Worse”
Here comes NFL Free Agency at the start of next week.
There go the Chargers, standing at the crossroads of how to make a good season better, knowing full well they are still deficient in lots of areas. They have (25M) cap space right now, but can clear more cap room.
Here’s a look at Chargers decisions to be made beginning this weekend.
WR….Tyrell Williams can walk out the door as an unrestricted free agent. He earned (2.7M) last year. In a wafer thin crop of free agents out there, he might get a big time payday. You cannot ignore (17YPC) and big TD plays. Of course you can’t ignore dropped passes, poor blocking and holding penalties. Someone will bid up his contract. I doubt the Chargers want to give him 5M a year, much less 8M. Of course they could do that if they opted to walk away from Travis Benjamin, earning (5.2M) a year, a supposed big play kick return-punt return-pass reception guy. 3-years after the signing, not much to show for the investment. They could release him, clear cap space and go back into the market for a different player.
TE…Likely time to say goodbye to Antonio Gates (2.5M) and re-assign his money to another position to stockpile salary cap cash.
DL…Corey Liuget has been cut loose. They were not going to pay him a roster bonus on top of the 4M due on the final year of the contract. A quad injury and a 4-game suspension pretty much wiped out his season. He could come back but has to take a pay cut. But the issue, is he a difference maker any longer? Brandon Mebane went thru a tough personal crisis with the death of his infant daughter, but then again, was he really a standout for the (4.5M)-he was paid?
LB….Injuries robbed them of talent, and the fact they seemed so undersized doesn’t bode well for bringing them all back. They will likely try to re-sign Denzel Perryman, will likely leave Jatavus Brown out there unsigned for awhile.
DB….Jason Verrett cannot stay on the field. His medical history is one thing, 4-major injuries in 4-years, and so is his cap figure (8.5M) so now the tough call. They’ve paid him all this money, and he has played just 25-games, missed 55-games, in those four years. They want him back at an affordable price, but who knows his market value for everyone knows he’s always hurt. Adrian Phillips has grown from a special teams player to a rock solid safety, and deserves a pay bump from the (1.5M) he earned last year.
OL…You saw Philip Rivers get knocked around at the end of the season and in the playoffs. The RT position needs to be shored up, but offensive lineman are few and far between in free agency. The team probably has to address that in the draft. The two year siege of injuries on high draft pick Forrest Lamp is over, and they believe he becomes their right guard. They have to fix the leaky RT position.
RB….Melvin Gordon is still under contract, but will likely wait to talk about an extension till he sees what Le’Veon Bell gets on the open market once he exits the Pittsburgh Steelers. We know the (63M) package Todd Gurley got from the Rams, so that’s a high water mark for now, but that will likely change. But the Gordon story, that’s an issue that can wait.
WHERE TO GO…The Draft is loaded with defensive players, and that’s where the Bolts should go when April rolls around. In free agency, leading tackler Jamie Collins, the ex-Patriot-Brown, was just released. He’s an ideal big body-run stuffer you can probably sign for a 5M a year package. The Ravens CJ Mosley is out there with a high price tag likely attached to him. The ex-Broncos Brandon Marshall bears looking at too.
Along the OL, the Rams Roger Saffold and the Steelers Ramon Foster are the best names, but they are more guard than tackle. Lamp played tackle at Eastern Kentucky, maybe you sign a veteran OG and move him out to OT.
If you say goodbye to Antonio Gates, pass catcher Jared Cook of the Raiders headlines a limited free agent list at that position.
The interior of the defensive line is not sexy, but there are big bodies out there who have played well in the past, ex-Jet Sheldon Richardson, ex Packer Mo Wilkerson, ex Patriot Danny Shelton…all younger versions of Mebane.
WHAT TO DO….Get Verrett to take a payout. Re-sign Phillips for the secondary. Re-sign Perryman. Move on from Mebane. Say thank you to Gates. Release Benjamin. Sign Liuget to a smaller contract.
Sign a free agent inside linebacker. Draft defense (LB), defense (DT), offensive line (RT) early on.