For better or worse, the Bolts appear to be set at most positions going into training camp. Over the years, there have been a few guys who have seemingly come out of nowhere to make the team. There have been even fewer to make an actual impact.
Mike Tolbert went undrafted out of Coastal Carolina and was signed as a free agent in 2008. Greg Camarillo, who is back on the market presently, was similarly signed in 2005. Of course, no one lets AJ Smith forget finding and discarding Wes Welker in 2004.
In fact, that’s why so many Charger fans clamored for the team to keep Bryan Walters last season at the expense of Laurent Robinson. Walters has since been released, but Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd were undrafted free agents. So was Ronney Jenkins, for that matter, and he turned out to be a great kick returner out of BYU.
Signing veteran free agents for training camp is another matter entirely. These are guys who might provide depth later on, but they'll most likely just end up providing summer competition. After poring over the list of players available (and eliminating the guys the Chargers have already had and the ones they clearly would never sign), there might be a few guys that make sense.
Keep in mind that these are not guys that any of the usual sources (U-T, NC Times, CBS RapidReports, XX1090) that cover the Chargers have hinted at the team signing. The Bolts seemingly have a ton of wide receivers, tight ends and linebackers. Their “problem areas” are still on both lines and in the defensive backfield.
Here are three guys who could prove useful.
He was once on the Ravens, right? That seems to be a quality that AJ Smith is looking for these days.
After Smith arrived in San Diego, former Buffalo players seemed to be in vogue for a while. Then ex-Bears were all the rage. Franklin was in New Orleans last year and failed to earn a second season, but the Saints' defense was a bit of a mess last year, even before “Bountygate.”
Franklin is a guy who can stuff the run. Even if he never makes the team, he might be worth taking a flier on nonetheless.
With Kris Dielman retiring and Marcus McNeill being released (and still unsigned), the Bolts’ offensive line has endured the most change of any part of the team.
Carey isn’t a star by any stretch of the imagination, but no veteran free agent is. The Chargers could do a lot worse than bringing in Carey for training camp to see what he’s got. He’s been more than serviceable considering that he's in a position that sees a lot of injuries.
He blocked in a Cam Cameron offense, which used to be important in San Diego. That ended when Cam left shortly after forgetting that the then MVP needed more than six touches in the second half of a playoff impact to salt the game away.
Not being able to stick in Jacksonville gives me pause about mentioning Coleman. But he’s proven that he can defend the pass, and that’s more than I can say about a lot of the guys the Chargers currently have.
He filled in for Darrelle Revis when he was in New York, and he can’t be any worse than Donald Strickland, who also came from the Jets and quickly returned there after a year in San Diego.
Sadly, Strickland’s best play in San Diego was as a member of the opposition when he stripped Malcom Floyd of the ball in the Chargers’ last playoff game.
The Chargers will probably bring someone in and then just as quickly release them before training camp. They could do a lot worse than these three guys, and in years past, they actually have done worse. But if you’re reading this, you are already all too aware of that.