The Los Angeles Chargers were mostly quiet throughout free agency, and league analysts are not impressed with the team’s inactivity. CBS Sports recently handed out free agency grades for every single team, and the Chargers received a D, tied for the second-worst mark among all 32 franchises.
Chargers Receive A “D” In Free Agency Grades
The Chargers were largely quiet in free agency, largely choosing to take care of their own rather than go out and sign any big-name free agent. The major exception to this rule was linebacker Eric Kendricks, who signed a two-year, $13.25 million contract following his release from the Minnesota Vikings. Kendricks is not the player he once was, but he’s a clear upgrade at a position of need. There is an argument to be made that the Chargers should have chosen the more cost-effective player in Drue Tranquill, but the Kendricks signing ultimately makes the team better.
The only other major signing involved bringing back right tackle Trey Pipkins. The offensive tackle is no superstar, but he’s a reliable player that gives the Chargers three starting-caliber tackles. Jamaree Salyer will slide over to guard when all three are healthy, but in the case of injury, Salyer can play either tackle position and provide Justin Herbert with adequate protection.
The only major concern with the Chargers free agency process was their decision to completely ignore the skill position players. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are both great, but Los Angeles needs to find a third option. Additionally, they could also use another running back in the event that Austin Ekeler finds a trade partner.
These positions were effectively ignored, and it’s hard to figure out why. While it was a weak wide receiver class, the Chargers could have gone after several different tight ends and running backs during free agency. Dalton Schultz had to settle for a one-year price-it deal, and you’d assume he’d rather play with Kellen Moore and Justin Herbert than the Houston Texans, all else being equal. Additionally, the team could have added someone like D’Onta Foreman for basically nothing to solidify their running back depth chart.
What the Chargers Can Do
A “D” is probably too low for the Chargers, as they did solidify their offensive line and improve their linebacker room. However, it’s hard to justify anything more than a “C” given the remaining holes on offense.
Fortunately, it’s only March, and the games aren’t played until September. The Chargers still have plenty of time to address the holes they missed in free agency, and that starts with the NFL Draft.
This is a strong draft for tight ends, but even the best tight ends aren’t ready to contribute as rookies. So, with that in mind, the Chargers should try to go after a wide receiver with their first-round pick. Jaxon Smith-Njigba will probably be off the board by the time the Los Angeles is on the clock, but they could probably get someone like Zay Flowers or Jordan Addison.
Passing on tight end in the first round means the Chargers probably won’t get Michael Mayer, but they could still add Luke Musgrave in the second round. Musgrave is an athletic freak that could easily end up being the best tight end in the class when all is said and done, but there are some injury concerns.
As for running back, the Chargers can easily find an adequate player in the fourth or fifth rounds. This is the best running back class in quite some time, and this surplus of talent combined with the general devaluation of the position means that Los Angeles should find a good player later on.
Main Photo: Matt Krohn – USA Today Sports