The 2016 NFL free agency period is set to start and the San Diego Chargers have many unanswered questions that need to be addressed relatively soon. Eric Weddle, Antonio Gates, Ladarius Green, Jahleel Addae, Kendall Reyes, Dontrelle Inman, Johnnie Troutman and Patrick Robinson are all unrestricted free agents.
Weddle is all but gone and the team needs to find a replacement for their former all-pro defensive captain. Not easy shoes to fill by any means, but the team does have some options. Re-signing Gates has to be a priority for the Bolts and there have been reports the two sides are making some progress. Still concerning that the team has failed to get a deal done before free agency is set to open.
There are some reports that teams are going to go hard after Ladarius Green, so the Chargers might have problems retaining him. The offensive and defensive line need a lot of help and the Chargers will surely spend a lot of their salary cap room on shoring up those areas.
Damon Harrison and Alex Mack would be the perfect fit for the Bolts at center and nose tackle, but each would require a significant financial commitment. Mack was covered by our staff at EVT as was the possibility of signing Harrison. The Chargers could not afford to sign both in all reality as the team has other issues that need to be addressed. Spending the majority of their salary cap room on two players would not be a smart move.
For this reason, Chargers management is going to have to be creative. With the third pick in this years upcoming NFL draft the team can address one issue. They will also have a high second round pick that will be beneficial in rebuilding the team. Draft picks are no given though. You can do all the homework you want, but nobody knows how a player performs at a professional level until they are there. It’s a gamble, an inexact science if you will. Rookies will help fill the squad, but the team needs to explore free agency to a certain degree.
Joe Barksdale was signed late Monday night by the team. A great move as he was the only Bolts offensive lineman to play and start every game last season. The Chargers had some durability issues and needed to bring back Barksdale who proved he could stay healthy.
A potential free agent offensive lineman to keep an eye on is Stefen Wisniewski. We wrote a piece on his production and how it might be a great value for the Chargers opposed to paying Alex Mack a huge contract. Russell Okung, Jahri Evans and Alex Boone also make intriguing options for the Bolts at the offensive line position.
The defensive line is in need of great repair. Harrison would be a legit nose tackle in the middle but he is not an every down player. He will also command a huge payday that might be too much for the Chargers to handle. The Chargers need interior lineman and there are some other options like Haloti Ngata, Brandon Mebane, Nick Fairley and Terrance Knighton. They might be decent options and don’t be surprised if the Chargers kick the tires on a few of them.
The tight end position is a bit of a concern for the first time in more than a decade. Antonio Gates is due for free agency and so is Ladarius Green. Chargers fans would like to see the team retain both but it seems like a difficult task. Dwayne Allen got a four-year, $29.4 million dollar deal from the Colts on Monday and he only had 16 catches last season. That means that the Chargers will have to break the bank to re-sign both. Allen’s contract was not a good thing for the Chargers in their negotiations with both tight ends.
With Eric Weddle set to leave town the Chargers need some safety help. Factor in Jahleel Addae is also a free agent and the team has a huge need for a veteran at the position, if not two. Eric Berry would have been a perfect fit for the team but the Chiefs franchise tagged him and he will be a Chief for the 2016 season.
George Iloka provides an interesting option. We previewed the big safety here and he is a very viable option for the Bolts. There are other options as well as Reggie Nelson, Tashaun Gipson, Robert Blanton, Tyvon Branch and Tony Jefferson are all unrestricted free agents. The Chargers will be active on the free agent market and it will be interesting to see which route they go to rebuild the team for success.
The action is set to start this week and we here at East Village Times will do our best to keep you up to date with everything Chargers. The draft is right around the corner and this San Diego Chargers team is about to take shape for a playoff run in the 2016 season. Go Bolts!