NFL Free Agency: San Diego Chargers Effectively Fill Voids with Veterans
The San Diego Chargers have been busy during free agency, and A.J. Smith and his team are making moves as if their jobs depended on it. They are adding weapons and solidifying the team.
Losing Vincent Jackson to free agency left a huge gap in the receiving corps that is important to the success of Phillip Rivers. However, given that Rivers makes receivers better, they have replaced Jackson with a dual attack.
First up there is Robert Meachem, a first-round draft choice out of Tennessee. A young man who could easily be a number one receiver on a lot of teams and has not been able to shine in such a fashion as a result of the system in New Orleans and the depth. His 4.36 forty-yard dash combined with his vertical leap of 37 1/2" make him a formidable target for Phillip Rivers. He was still extremely helpful to the Saints' Super Bowl run and could become a human highlight reel for the Chargers.
Second, they sign Eddie Royal. Royal is a player who has big play potential due to his agility and quickness. He is already fast, with a 4.39 forty-yard dash, but what makes him really dangerous is his change of direction. Royal immediately improves the return game, which was lacking last year. He also allows the coaching staff to rotate the the players and keep the legs fresh. Royal looked as if he would be a really strong receiver prior to "Tebow Mania" taking over with the wildcat system. He should be great sharing the slot position with Vincent Brown.
Doubling off of Antonio Gates will prove to be a problem for many teams.
These two signings give Rivers a lot of targets, however the signing of Le'Ron McClain proves to be an even more significant signing. The signing of McClain improves the running game and it improves the play-action game. Ryan Mathews just made a new best friend, as McClain will clear a lot of lanes and take some pressure off of him. The last time the Chargers had one of the best fullbacks in the league that meshed into the Turner system, LaDainian Tomlinson broke the record for touchdowns in a single season.
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The Chargers also began to focus on their defense by signing SS Atari Bigby and OLB Jarrett Johnson: Two veterans that provide depth at positions in need of support for the defense.
They have also solidified their offensive line from inside the organization. Towards the end of the season they really came together and they expect that they will continue to improve as a unit. They have resigned C/G Nick Hardwick and T Jared Gaither and let go of the injury prone McNeil.
The signings thus far have been very effective, and most importantly, provides them with the ability to be flexible with the NFL draft coming up in April. They can now worry about selecting the best available, as opposed to filling voids. However, they are not done. The Chargers need to take care of a few more things.
Next Steps: Resign Antonio Garay, improve LB and secondary depth through draft, and build depth into the offensive line.
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