2022 Los Angeles Chargers Free Agency: Re-Signing Priorities

Chargers Free Agency
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The NFL playoffs are still currently ongoing, but the 2021 season is long over for the Los Angeles Chargers, and thus it is time to begin thinking about the off-season and looking ahead. The first order of business is free agency, coming in early March. Like other teams, the Chargers have decisions to make about who to keep (or try to keep, anyway) and who to let walk before free agency officially begins. For this piece, we will discuss who their top priorities should be.

2022 Los Angeles Chargers Free Agency: Top Players to Re-Sign

Mike Williams

In a contract year, wide receiver Mike Williams had the best season of his career thus far, finishing with 76 catches for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns. It seems that he was simply not being used to his full potential under the Anthony Lynn era when he was mostly being used as a deep pass/jump-ball specialist; granted, he was good at this, but we still were not seeing his full potential.

Now that we are seeing all that he is capable of, he will likely require a high price. Nonetheless, the Chargers should make bringing him back their top priority. He and Keenan Allen are as good as any receiving duo in the league right now, and ideally, that duo should remain intact. Most teams are going to have a difficult time containing both.

Kyzir White

Kyzir White had a breakout year at the inside linebacker position, being in on 100+ tackles for the first time in his career. With that in mind, the Chargers need to bring him back this off-season; they do have a lack of proven depth at inside linebacker right now beyond White and Drue Tranquill, especially considering the massive sophomore slump season that Kenneth Murray had.

This defense already has a few holes that need to be shored up this off-season, so the Chargers need to not let a currently reliable player slip away. White didn’t quite reach star status even in a breakout year, so he should not be too pricey anyway. That said, he is still the best of the non-pass-rushing linebackers on the team as things currently stand.

Justin Jones

Speaking of currently reliable players that the Chargers should not slip away… defensive lineman Justin Jones is another one of those. He isn’t a flashy name by any means, but he was an unexpectedly important piece of the defensive line this year. It is well known by most who have been paying attention to the Chargers that their run defense was absolutely horrific in 2021, finishing at third-worst in the league. However, a sobering stat from Week 15 showed that yards allowed per carry were 3.6 when Jones was on the field… and 5.3 when he was off the field.

The defensive line obviously needs to get some overhaul this year regardless; the defensive end spot opposite Jones in particular needs an upgrade. But the difference in yards given up when Jones is on the field versus off the field cannot be ignored.

Uchenna Nwosu

Uchenna Nwosu fully settled in as the main starting pass-rusher opposite Joey Bosa this season. He’s obviously not at the level of Bosa, but he did pretty clearly set himself apart from Kyler Fackrell, his main competitor. He had career highs at every statistic this year, racking up five sacks, 17 quarterback hits, 40 combined tackles (24 solo), two forced fumbles, and his first career interception.

Like White, Nwosu is a player who sees to blossoming more under Staley’s scheme compared to Gus Bradley. While he might not be quite as inherently critical as White or Jones, keeping their other starting pass-rusher would at minimum be one less thing the Chargers have to worry about in free agency this year. Nwosu has proven he can handle the job, so unless the Chargers have their eye on somebody else in free agency for a splash signing, Nwosu should be brought back.

Andre Roberts

Normally one wouldn’t necessarily put a special teams player on this list, but Andre Roberts is the best punt/kick returner the Chargers have had in a long time. In ten games with the team after the Houston Texans released him mid-season (for some reason), he racked up 624 kick return yards and the first kick/punt return touchdown for the Chargers since 2012 – almost a decade since the last one. He also averaged 32.8 yards per kick return.

Some fans might remember the fumble he had in the season finale against the Las Vegas Raiders, but Roberts has a good enough track record as a return specialist and did well enough otherwise for the Chargers that this can be overlooked; it just came at a bad time. The special teams have been horrific for a long time for the Chargers; they will want to bring back one of the players responsible for making them no longer a bottom dweller in that department.

In Conclusion

There are a couple of other players that it would be nice to get back, such as kicker Dustin Hopkins or backup running back Justin Jackson. There are also exclusive-right free agents Jalen Guyton and Donald Parham to consider. But the five mentioned above are the most critical to bring back to increase chances of success in the 2022 season.

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