5 Moves the Chargers Must Avoid in Free Agency
Here we go.
On Tuesday, March 12, free agency will officially begin. Tom Telesco wants to build the Chargers through the draft, but don't sleep on San Diego in free agency. As much as management is saying they will not pursue big-name free agents this offseason, I have a feeling they will. It may just be "hoping" feeling, but don't be surprised if they do.
The Chargers have a new general manager and a new head coach. Now it's time for a new-look roster.
Keeping Jared Gaither
Jared Gaither made $2.625,000 in 2012. Jared Gaither also only played in four games last season, so he ultimately made $656,250 per game in 2012. If that looks bad, Gaither's remaining contract will shock you.
In 2013, Gaither is scheduled to make $6.5 million.
In 2014, Gaither is scheduled to make $7 million.
In 2015, Gaither is scheduled to make $8 million.
It only took five games in 2011 for the Chargers to give Gaither a $24.6 million contract.
When healthy, Jared Gaither can protect Philip Rivers at an elite level. Key word: "when." Lately, fans of the NFL have labeled Ryan Mathews a bust based on his inability to remain at full strength and not get injured. Well, Mathews missed only four games last season. Jared Gaither only played in four games.
Tom Telesco, who plans to sit down with Gaither and talk about the future, must ultimately do what's right for the franchise. He must cut Jared Gaither and his multi-million dollar contract. Keeping Gaither is a risk that the Chargers, and Philip Rivers especially, cannot afford.
Making a Low Offer to Jake Long
I know what most of you are thinking: Targeting Jake Long is a huge risk. But why? Jake Long is a risk because he had two down seasons? Have you given up on Philip Rivers, too?
John Gennaro of Bolts From the Blue had a very smart idea regarding Jake Long and the Chargers. It would cost some money, but the Chargers could sign Jake Long and keep Jared Gaither. He said San Diego could move Jeromey Clary to right guard and Gaither to right tackle.
Ryan Riddle recently posted an article on Bleacher Report regarding NFL free agents who are worth huge contracts. He chose Jake Long as the player who is most worthy. Long entered the league in 2008 as the first overall selection. The potential was there, and it's still there.
The Chargers need to go all in on Jake Long. Give him the money he wants and deserves. This would allow them to draft Chance Warmack in the first round of the NFL draft if they cannot re-sign Louis Vasquez.
Letting Louis Vasquez Walk
See the emphasis on the offensive line? Louis Vasquez is priority No. 1 for the San Diego Chargers in free agency, but only if they don't target Jake Long. After Nick Hardwick, Vasquez has been the most consistent player protecting Philip Rivers the past few seasons.
Vasquez's agent Rob Sheets made it clear that Louis is going to "explore all of his options." Vasquez was not given a contract extension in November because A.J. Smith was still in charge.
Tom Telesco has to entice Vasquez into remaining a Charger because he is already drawing interest from other teams.
Losing Danario Alexander
The San Diego Union-Tribune has reported that the Chargers have placed the low tender on Alexander. This means that if a team decides to offer DX a contract and the Chargers do not match it, they will receive nothing in return. Basically, it turns Alexander into an unrestricted free agent.
Danario Alexander caught 37 passes for 658 yards and seven touchdowns in the 10 games he was a Charger. He filled the void that Vincent Jackson left. He gave San Diego the production they wanted from Robert Meachem and Malcom Floyd.
Alexander was one of the few bright spots for the Chargers in 2012.
His injury history makes him a risky player to re-sign, but his upside is outstanding, as we've already witnessed. In order to start the rebuilding process alongside Philip Rivers, San Diego must not let Danario Alexander leave for another team.
Keeping Quentin Jammer...At Cornerback
Quentin Jammer will be 34 in June and has spent his entire career a Charger. His time in San Diego may be up, unless they decide to move him to safety like the Green Bay Packers did with Charles Woodson.
Over the past couple of seasons, Jammer has been downright awful in coverage. His age has played a big factor in his regression. His main weakness as of late is his speed and inability to stay with receivers. San Diego just cut Atari Bigby, making the strong safety position up for grabs.
The Chargers can do two things: let Quentin Jammer go or move him to safety. There's no way he should be playing cornerback for the Chargers in 2013.