It’s now been nearly two weeks since the legal tampering period of free agency started – which was also when the news rush started. The second week was much calmer in that regard, but teams were still making moves. That made it a little perplexing when the Los Angeles Chargers only made two new signings in free agency this week (outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell and backup quarterback Chase Daniel) when there was more than one position that needed addressing sooner rather than later. While the issue of edge-rushing linebackers might now be more or less solved by adding Fackrell (don’t forget, Uchenna Nwosu’s there too), there are still a few other positions with big holes right now. Perhaps Tom Telesco intends to address them in the NFL Draft, but if you don’t get the guy you want, that can be a bit of a gamble. Regardless, here are the top few positions that still need addressing at some point this off-season for the Chargers.
Top Remaining Los Angeles Chargers Free Agency Priorities
This one is significant enough that one could practically write an essay on how huge of a problem this is while it remains unsolved – and it’s the most perplexing one of all in that it hasn’t been addressed already. The position was terrible last year, and while the main starter Sam Tevi has departed, he hasn’t been replaced yet. Trey Pipkins remains on the roster, and at one time he looked somewhat promising – but it’s a little alarming that he couldn’t beat out Tevi for the job.
Alejandro Villanueva, a long-time Pittsburgh Steelers player, is still available. There’s the connection of having former Steelers offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett on the staff, which already helped bring Matt Feiler to the Chargers. But there’s also Jason Peters or the recently-released Eric Fisher. And sure, in theory, they could wait until the Draft and take a tackle at the 13th overall spot. And while that might work out fine, it would seem to be better to grab a veteran if they can on a one-year deal, at least as an insurance policy. Again, the fact that Pipkins couldn’t beat out Sam Tevi for the left tackle spot last year should be quite worrying.
The Chargers have done a good job so far of fixing up the line. They’ve got Corey Linsley at center, Matt Feiler at (probably) left guard, and the returning Bryan Bulaga at right tackle. Right guard at least doesn’t look abysmal at the moment. Now protecting Justin Herbert’s blindside should be the priority above all else.
Rayshawn Jenkins was one of the more unfortunate losses of free agency, as he’s been one of the only safeties on the entire roster the last couple of years that could dependably stay healthy. That’s something else that needs to be addressed, given that their only other option at free safety right now is Nasir Adderley, who struggled rather heavily last year. Sure, maybe Brandon Staley could fix him, but at the very least, there needs to be more depth beyond him.
This is something where they could conceivably wait until the Draft, but it’d be better to go ahead and sign somebody now since they already have a young player they still presumably have some hope for. Some options there could include Tashaun Gipson or bringing back Tre Boston. Malik Hooker is also available, though he is coming off an Achilles injury. The pickings are admittedly getting slim here, but it seems that it’d still be better to bring in a veteran (again, on a one-year deal) at least for some depth and/or competition. Let’s not forget, on the opposite end at strong safety, Derwin James has only played five games in the last two years – if he gets hurt again, they may need the veteran depth.
The Chargers have their top two pieces at cornerback pretty well set with Chris Harris and Michael Davis, but the bar drops pretty heavily after that. Their next best options currently are Brandon Facyson and Tevaughn Campbell. There are a couple of other names on the roster, but they may not make it to the 2021 Week 1 roster. Brandon Staley likes to use defensive backs quite a bit in his sets – plus, it’s not clear if Harris will be playing outside or slot/nickel again – so at least one, probably two more cornerbacks may need to be added to the roster.
The Chargers could pretty easily draft one, but depending on where that happens, that rookie may still be mostly just a depth piece. There aren’t a lot of free agent cornerbacks left either, but options like Bashaud Breeland or Steven Nelson or even a veteran like Richard Sherman are available, depending on what they’re looking for. This is another situation where having more known depth in addition to having a rookie could be beneficial.
Last Word on Chargers Free Agency
Admittedly, the Chargers could wait on these until the Draft. The issue is more that they wouldn’t have a proven viable starter beyond the rookie, and if the rookie wasn’t ready yet, then there would be a problem. This is where doing things like signing veterans on the cheap to one-year deals can be beneficial, especially since those kinds of deals seem to be popular right now. And these three positions aren’t the only ones that could still use some depth but could be addressed either way. These, however, are the most critical of the bunch.
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