San Diego Chargers: 8 Backups That Would Start for Other Teams
Having a trusted backup at any position can make life easier for a head coach, but it's an interesting thought to picture several players in a starting scenario around the league. Players deserving of a starting nod usually have a combination of experience and flat-out skill.
For one reason or another, the following San Diego backups are worthy of a starting position with other teams.
Defensive End, Jacques Cesaire
Career Games Started: 66 out of 125
Years of Experience: 10
An undrafted free agent of the Chargers in 2003, 31-year-old Jacques Cesaire has played nine seasons in the league—all with the Chargers. While he's never earned a trip to Honolulu or had his name mentioned among the elite, Cesaire has successfully managed to hold his own on San Diego's defensive line.
In 2006, Cesaire had career numbers of 37 tackles and four sacks. Four seasons later, Cesaire came close to re-creating that career year with 31 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
The Chargers do utilize Cesaire as part of a rotational unit on the defensive line, but he rarely starts. If given the opportunity, Cesaire could be an every-down starter for another team despite his old age.
Offensive Tackle/Guard, Brandyn Dombrowski
Career Games Started: 15 out of 47
Years of Experience: four
When Marcus McNeill held out during the 2010 season due to a contract dispute, Brandyn Dombrowski stepped in at left tackle and started five games for the Chargers. Though he performed well, Dombrowski was unable to do enough to keep the starting job. Eventually, McNeill was released, and the position was taken by surprise standout Jared Gaither.
While the verdict is still out on Dombrowski as a potential starter, according to Brett Solesky of Midway Illustrated, the combination of his talent and minimal experience make him worth the risk.
Tight End, Randy McMichael
Career Games Started: 140 out of 148
Years of Experience: 11
Randy McMichael's better days may be behind him in his 11th year in the league, but that hasn't stopped the 33-year-old from making an impact with the Chargers. In 14 starts last season, McMichael caught 30 passes for 271 yards while also making his presence known up front in the trenches.
With star tight end Antonio Gates constantly suffering from an on-and-off battle with plantar fasciitis, McMichael has given the Chargers unmeasurable value as a reserve. That being said, McMichael has also proven he's capable of contributing in a starting role.
Offensive Guard, Rex Hadnot
Career Games Started: 93 out of 114
Years of Experience: nine
Nine-year veteran Rex Hadnot, formerly of the Arizona Cardinals, was signed by the Chargers in April to compensate for the loss of recently retired All-Pro offensive guard Kris Dielman. In 2011, Hadnot started all 16 games for the Cardinals at right guard.
Hadnot and fourth-year player Tyronne Green are slated to compete for the left guard position during training camp, and offensive line coach Hal Hunter is overjoyed to have both men at his disposal.
They both know they're competing. They both got good attitudes. (Hadnot) is a good veteran player that's still got some tread left on his tire, and I'm glad to have him.
Assuming Hadnot is unable to win the starting job at the end of the preseason, he's easily a candidate to start for another team.
Kicker, Nick Novak
Career Games: 37
Years Experience: 5
Nick Novak has spent the majority of his career as a fill-in placekicker for teams in the NFL and NFL Europe. During the 2011 season, however, Novak made 27-of-34 field goal attempts for the Chargers for a total of 122 points—the highest of his career.
Novak is currently still on San Diego's roster, but he faces competition with a recovering Nate Kaeding—who has been the Chargers' kicker for nine seasons thus far. Novak may not have what it takes to beat out one of the league's most accurate regular-season kickers, but he's shown he's just as good as some of his other competitors around the league.
Defensive Tackle, Aubrayo Franklin
Career Games Started: 70 out of 114
Years Experience: nine
On July 20th, the Chargers announced a deal with ex-New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin. A former fifth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2003, Franklin has played eight seasons for three NFL teams.
In one season with the Saints, Franklin started nine games, recording just 17 tackles. Prior to his one year in New Orleans, Franklin started 60-of-62 games with the San Francisco 49ers, averaging close to 37 tackles a season.
In San Diego's 3-4 defensive scheme, Franklin will be forced to share snaps with Antonio Garay and Cam Thomas, but the 31-year-old has the ability to be the lone force in the middle for another team.
Linebacker, Antwan Barnes
Career Games Started: five out of 67
Years Experience: six
Despite starting in only five games, Antwan Barnes still had a breakout season after five relatively quiet years with the Chargers, Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles. Barnes had a team-high 11 sacks with 41 tackles and two forced fumbles. The 27-year-old was arguably San Diego's most productive player on defense.
Like the defensive line, San Diego will be employing a rotational unit to efficiently shut down opposing offenses. Barnes won't see the field every down, but he'll still get his reps in.
After such a productive year, a lot of teams would be willing to plug in the six-year player as a starter.
Wide Receiver, Eddie Royal
Career Games Started: 45 out of 57
Years Experience: five
Former Denver Broncos receiver Eddie Royal may not be a backup technically, considering he's going to get an ample amount of time in San Diego's offense, but he's still not one of the two primary receivers. Royal should fare well in his role with the Chargers but don't forget that he was a starter in Denver at one point.
Royal's numbers hit career lows in 2011, but he was rarely targeted in an offense run by a mobile Tim Tebow. Any team with a quarterback willing to throw the ball around would be an ideal scenario for Royal to fit in as a No. 1 receiver.