It seems like Chargers’ Head Coach Norv Turner has nine lives, he has a team that looks like they have the potential to make it deep into the playoffs, but end up self-destructing in the first round, or like the past two seasons, not seeing the playoffs at all. Now they have a player in their division who can knock them out at favorites in the AFC West – Peyton Manning.
Last season Denver came back from a lousy start to having a better record than the Bolts and taking the AFC West title (yeah, a little Tebow-mania was part of it, I admit it). Now the Broncos replaced the “winning” of “Timmy” with the “Hall of Fame”-quality status of a Peyton Manning, but does that really mean anything? Norv and the Chargers beat Peyton’s Colts four of the past five times they played each other. Once again, the Chargers have a chance to be the top contender in their division, but haven’t they always been that? Has their window closed yet?
The Chargers have been extremely busy this offseason, they signed 16 free agents since March 13th. With all of this “mass movement”, are they really making the team better? Is the acquisition of wide receivers Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem better than the Pro Bowler Vincent Jackson, who they lost to free agency? Norv Turner better hope so.
1-Outside Linebacker: With all of this “mass movement” going on in the offseason, they still haven’t addressed the pass rushing problem; they don’t have anyone to put pressure on the QB. Outside linebacker Shaun Phillips and Larry English missed games because of injuries and the organization is growing impatient with their productivity. They might use the draft to find someone to line up opposite Shaun Phillips (who had a career low 3.5 sacks last year) to put pressure on the quarterback.
2-Strong Safety: After former safety Rodney Harrison left for New England in 2003, the position hasn’t been the same since. Bring in Bob Sanders sounded like a good idea, but it just sounded like it. Steve Gregory did a good job In replacing Sanders, but he bolted and went to New England. They are still searching.
3-Cornerback: Even though this position is last on the Needs list, it is very important to find a quality CB here; Antoine Cason skill looked like it was diminishing towards the end of the season and Quentin Jammer was getting burned down the field constantly.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
ILB Stephen Cooper ended up on IR last October with a bicep injury. Don’t look promising that he will be back.
LB Na’il Diggs might be on the expendable list, since Jonas Mouton seem to be healthy after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury.
DL Tommie Harris might have a chance to stay on the team, he was added to the team in the third week of the season and seemed to give the Chargers a boost when given the opportunity to start.
FS Paul Oliver has not developed to the player they thought they were getting; since the Chargers are hurting in the secondary, he has a good chance of staying on the team, as a backup and probably with a pay cut.
SS Bob Sanders honestly had great potential to be a great strong safety, but his accumulation of serious injuries took a toll and he might have to shut it down for good and call it a career.
WR Patrick Crayton did well filling in for the injured Malcolm Floyd, but with the addition of free agents Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem, Crayton’s role on the team will be greatly diminished.
OT Tony Moll played his part last season, but everybody on the O-Line seem to be coming back healthy in the offseason. He might find himself on the expendable list.
G Scott Mruczkowski [merch-COW-ski] is the Charger’s kind of guy; he knows how to play his position and knows the system. Scott suffered a concussion in Week 11, ending his season; wonder if that is going to cause problems this season.
Ol Brandyn Dombrowski (tendered at $1.26M with no compensation) lost his spot to Jared Gaither last season; might be looking for a backup role and possibly a pay cut.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
RB Curtis Brinkley looks like he has the position locked down with Mike Tolbert signing with Carolina. When he did play, he showed what he got.
LS Mike Windt solidified his position on the team as a solid Long Snapper; look for him to be back.
LT Jared Gaither: Unrestricted Free Agent; 4yrs. / $24,600,000 – $9M guaranteed
DT Antonio Garay: Unrestricted Free Agent; 2yrs. / $6,600,000
C Nick Hardwick: Unrestricted Free Agent; 3yrs. / $13,500,000 – $5,250,000 guaranteed
TE Randy McMichael: Unrestricted Free Agent; 2yrs. / $2,700,000
TE Kory Sperry: Restricted Free Agent; 1yr. (terms unknown)
WR Richard Goodman: Restricted Free Agent; 1yr. / $540,000
S Atari Bigby: Unrestricted Free Agent Seahawks; 2yrs. / $2,500,000
LB Demorrio Williams: Free Agent Chiefs; 1yr. (terms unknown)
OLB Jarret Johnson: Unrestricted Free Agent Ravens; 4yrs. / $19,000,000
QB Charlie Whitehurst: Unrestricted Free Agent Seahawks; 2yrs. / $4,000,000 – $1M signing bonus
TE Dante Rosario: Unrestricted Free Agent Broncos; 1yr. (terms unknown)
WR Robert Meachem: Unrestricted Free Agent Saints; 4yrs. / $25,900,000 – $7.5M signing bonus and $5M base guarantee in 2013
WR Eddie Royal: Unrestricted Free Agent Broncos; 3yrs. / $13,500,000 – $6M guaranteed
FB Le’Ron McClain: Unrestricted Free Agent Chiefs; 3yrs. / $8,250,000
LB Everette Brown: Released
LB Nate Triplett: Released
DE Luis Castillo: Released
CB Dante Hughes: Released
QB Billy Volek: Released
WR Bryan Walters: Released
OT Marcus McNeill: Released
LG Kris Dielman: Retired
SS Steve Gregory: Unrestricted Free Agent Patriots; 3yrs. / $8,500,000 – $3.35M guaranteed
RB Mike Tolbert: Unrestricted Free Agent Panthers; 4yrs. / $10,000,000 – $2M signing bonus and $2.7M guaranteed
WR Vincent Jackson: Unrestricted Free Agent Buccaneers; 5yrs. / $55,555,555 – $26M guaranteed
Written by – Arnold Glass II – AFC West Writer