Chargers News: Free Agent Profile- Safety George Iloka

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Credit: AP Photo
Credit: AP Photo

The Eric Weddle situation has escalated so far that the two sides have clearly moved on from each other. There is no way the safety will return to the Chargers and the team clearly needs to address the lack of depth (at the position) on the roster as Jahleel Addae is also scheduled for free agency.

The San Diego Chargers have salary cap room and could go in several different directions to solve their issues. The team went 4-12 last season and has position issues that can, and will be taken care of via free agency or through the draft. The Chargers own the third pick in this April’s draft and might select Joey Bosa, Jalen Ramsey, Robert Nkemdiche, DeForest Buckner or Laremy Tunsil. The Chargers could also trade down if they have their eyes on some middle round talent. Having multiple pick might be a great option for the team.

They could draft a safety, but more than likely the team is going to have to bring in a few veterans to compete for roster spots. It remains to be seen if the Chargers will re-sign Addai. He could be retained but nothing has been reported between the two sides. Replacing Eric Weddle will not be easy as he was the defensive captain and very well-respected among his peers.

Luckily the Chargers have some young talented players like Jason Verrett, Kenan Allen and Denzel Perryman that can easily step up and be the next generation of Chargers captains. The future is bright for the Chargers team, but they still need to find those missing pieces to change the losing stigma that has surrounded the team in recent years.

The Chargers are in the position to bring in some safeties and there are quite a few to choose from on the open market. One that sneaks under the radar a bit and could be a decent pickup is George Iloka of the Cincinnati Bengals. The 25-year-old safety from Boise State could be a nice value pickup for the Bolts.

He is not flashy by any sense of the imagination. He does not get national press nor is he loud or abrasive on the field. He simply does his job and rarely gives up a big play on the field. His fellow safety and teammate Reggie Nelson is also due for free agency so the Bengals will have trouble retaining both. Nelson is viewed as the favorite despite being much older than Iloka. Money could be a factor. Either safety would be highly sought after on the open market. That tandem was viewed as one of the best in the league.

Credit: NFL Zone
Credit: NFL Zone

Iloka graded out (according to Pro Football Focus) in the last two seasons as one of the league’s top safeties. He has a +4.7 rating during runs and a +7.2 rating in pass plays. Those are both excellent numbers for the 6′ 4″ 225 lb safety.

His size is coveted very much by teams as he matches up well against tight ends during pass plays. Iloka doesn’t have blazing speed, but as a safety he doesn’t have to be a speed burner. He has a nose for the ball and despite having an injury marred 2015 season, he racked up 47 tackles and picked off one pass. He amassed those numbers in 12 games as he suffered groin and ankle injuries that limited his production nearly all season long.

Before last season Iloka started every game for the Bengals in 2013 and 2014. He averaged 72 tackles and two interceptions during that time. In the right situation his numbers could very easily be boosted. Iloka figures to get a salary in the five to six million dollar range. That is what his market dictates, but he could command more as teams look for a veteran presence at safety.

The Chargers need to do something to shore up the defensive backfield. Iloka would be a viable option but don’t expect the Chargers to break the bank in signing him. They have more pressing issues in the defensive and offensive line and clearly the bulk of the money spent this offseason should go to those areas. Still you don’t want to have a hole at safety, so Tom Telesco and the San Diego Chargers brass are going to need to do their homework and do some bargain shopping with their money this offseason. The feeding frenzy is nearly upon us. It will be interesting to see what the Chargers do.

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