It is no secret that the San Diego Chargers suffered numerous debilitating injuries during the 2015 football season. Injuries are indeed part of the game, but the team was constantly riddled with health issues at every position. The defensive backfield was not spared as the team lost Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers for a combined eight games.
Flowers missed six games with a knee injury. While he was in the lineup graded out as the third worst CB out of 111 according to Pro Football Focus. His numbers have taken a nose dive since he was inked to a $36-million dollar deal last off season. He is reportedly 10-15 pounds lighter now than last season and claims that he is eager to prove the critics wrong. Verrett missed two games, but had nagging injuries virtually all season long. He is just coming into his own and this year could be a huge year in terms of production from Verrett. With Verrett developing into a shut-down corner back, the Chargers need to solidify the rest of the defensive backfield. Opposing teams will certainly recognize Verrett’s ability and with that they will try to attack the other DB’s on the squad.
The addition of Casey Hayward was huge for the Bolts. The corner back from the Packers signed a deal this offseason to be the Chargers #1 option at slot corner. Heyward has a reputation for being one of the best slot corner backs in the league and he will be key to stopping opposing teams offense on third down. Steve Williams and Craig Mager round out the depth chart currently but there is a name out there who could be of interest to the Chargers.
Brandon Boykin was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Georgia. The 5′ 9″-183 lb Boykin had an outstanding career in college where he started his last three years. Boykin returned punts in college and was pretty successful at doing it. He hasn’t really done it in the NFL, but he does have the ability if needed. A positive for a Chargers team that needed special teams help last season.
Boykin spent three seasons in Philadelphia playing for the Eagles. He played mostly on special teams and failed to crack the starting lineup. The DB played in all 48 games he suited up for but only started six games. From the beginning the Eagles recognized his slot coverage abilities and that is what he has excelled at. He is the first DB off the bench to provide coverage in pass heavy offensive schemes. In 2013, Boykin had six interceptions and forced two fumbles in limited playing time. He looked as though he was going to break out, but regressed slightly in 2014 and was dealt to the Pittsburgh Steelers before the 2015 season.
He played exceptionally well for the Steelers last season grading out as a leagues top-40 CB despite his limited playing time. The Steelers also used him as a slot CB and mainly on special teams. In the last five games Boykin was called into action due to secondary injuries and played in 252 of the teams final 274 defensive snaps. He played well and it was a surprise the Steelers elected to let him leave. A lot of Steeler fans thought he deserved a shot to start on the outside for the team.
Here is where things get interesting. The Carolina Panthers immediately signed Boykin and gave him a 80K signing bonus. After being signed by the Panthers in March, Boykin was released by the team in May and has been looking for work ever since. There are rumors that came from Steelers DB coach Carnell Lake, that Boykin has a degenerative hip problem and his future in the league is questionable. Boykin denies this and states that he is fully healthy. It is not known if the Panthers discovered an issue and let him go because of it, but for some strange reason he hasn’t been signed by anyone else.
The Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons have each worked him out in the last 30 days but each also passed on signing him. Now would the Chargers be a good fit for this young man? Obviously an injury concern is nothing to ignore, but Boykin has yet to miss one game in his four-year career. Is he really a health risk? He is also 25 going on 26 and seems really young to be an injury risk. The signs point to his health not being an issue, but any team potentially signing him will have to do their extensive homework. The Chargers could take a flier on him and offer him and incentive based deal. Boykin has the ability to play the outside, he just has never really been given the opportunity. He could provide pro-bowl caliber talent at a bargain basement price. He is well worth the potentially injury issues. The Chargers should kick the tires on this young man. If the team truly ha Championship aspirations, then they need depth at every position. Boykin provides that and more.