The Chargers had one of the worst records last season, but they are a much better team than that record suggests. Their level of injuries last season, particularly on offense left them without the means to be competitive throughout the season. With Philip Rivers still at the helm the Chargers time to compete is now, which is why they should be more aggressive in free agency than some other teams at the bottom of the standings last year. There are a lot of ways they could go, but here is a possible free agency plan to help fix the Chargers using Manage the Cap.
Cuts and Re-signings:
Cuts: RB Donald Brown
- There definitely could be a couple other cuts, but this is the one no-brainer. They can’t justify paying Brown a couple of million, when he’s maybe the 4th best back on the team and doesn’t have any upside.
Re-Signings: TE Antonio Gates 2 years $11 million ($4.8 million cap hit in 2016), OL Joseph Barksdale 5 years $32 million ($4.38 million cap hit in 2016)
- There are of course a few players the Chargers could consider bringing back, but the two most likely ones should be Gates and Barksdale. While Gates wasn’t 100% last season, he still remained effective and was one of Philip Rivers favorite weapons. With the Chargers looking to get back into contention next year, they will need Gates to be an integral part of their offense. Barksdale was quietly one of the Chargers best offensive players last season, and one of the few who actually played all 16 games. Rewarding him with a nice contract makes sense as he’s still young.
WR Travis Benjamin- 6 years $42 million, 2016 Cap Hit- $4.8 million
RB Stevan Ridley- 1 years $2.2 million, 2016 Cap Hit- $2.2 million
- Offensively the Chargers are set at QB, with Barksdale and Gates back they would be pretty good along the OL and at TE (though depth is needed at both positions). After investing a 1st round pick in Melvin Gordon last year they aren’t going to go after a big name back. That leaves WR as the one position on offense where they could look to spend a little money.
- That is why Travis Benjamin became my top offensive priority. The Chargers window is now, so adding a big play weapons for Rivers makes a lot of sense. Instead of maybe spreading out the money to cover multiple positions, the Chargers could use more impact options. Benjamin brings deep threat ability to the Chargers roster and he would be a nice number two option behind Keenan Allen.
- The only other offensive player I decided to bring in was RB Stevan Ridley on a one year deal. While Gordon will be given every chance to be the feature back, and Woodhead is a nice 3rd down back/insurance policy, the Chargers could use another potential feature option if Gordon falters. It doesn’t make sense for them to break the bank so, a cheap option like Ridley makes sense. He didn’t play much this year coming off an ACL injury, but he should be fully recovered at this point.
S Reggie Nelson- 5 years $42.5 million, 2016 Cap Hit- $6.19 million
CB Janoris Jenkins- 4 years $22 million, 2016 Cap Hit- $3.9 million
- The Chargers biggest hole on defense will be when Eric Weddle walks this offseason, so replacing him was my top priority. Nelson remains one of the best safeties in the league and while he’s a little older, he’s still worth the investment given the Chargers window to contend. Jenkins helps the Chargers back-end and should give them a young solid corner at a reasonable price. I didn’t address the Chargers front seven needs, but in this deep DL draft class San Diego can improve there pretty easily.
Unlike the other scenarios I’ve posted for different teams, I felt with this scenario that the focus should be on getting the Chargers back into contention. Bad luck and injuries contributed more to their record than an overall lack of talent. Because of this there is extra risk here that wouldn’t make sense to take with another team, but their could be a vacuum in the AFC West if Peyton retires and the Broncos falter, so the opening is there.
Summary page: http://fanspeak.com/mtc/summary.php?id=doyxty