San Diego Chargers: Predicting Free-Agent Signings
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The San Diego Chargers have plenty of holes, leaving a daunting task for new general manager Tom Telesco to steady a ship rocked by poor drafting and poor free-agency moves by the former regime.
According to SportTrac, the Chargers have slightly more than $7 million in cap space. That’s not enough to land any of the major free agents available.
While it would be nice if free agency were as simple as a picking whichever player you want, the truth is it is a very calculated procedure based on money: how much is a player worth and how much does the team have to offer without mortgaging the future.
Telesco said he wants to use free agency “to supplement the roster,” whereas San Diego will be a “draft-driven organization.” He later clarified his statement, telling fans during an online chat session on Chargers.com that the team “will absolutely use free agency as a tool to fill needs.” He also made a point to emphasize that free agency is not just about signing new players, but re-signing their own.
If Chargers fans were hoping to land left tackle Jake Long or any other big-name free agent out there, they may be left disappointed.
Louis Vasquez, Guard
Vasquez (65) needs to be the Chargers' top priority.
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Re-signing guard Louis Vasquez must be the top priority in free agency for Telesco. Vasquez was the best offensive lineman for San Diego last year, as well as one of the two who played in every game (center Nick Hardwick also did not miss a game in 2012).
Vasquez is coming off a four-year, $2.55 million contract.
In a fairly weak free-agent guard class, he is viewed as one of the top available options, meaning his price is going to rise. San Diego would be negotiating from a place of weakness, and the former Texas Tech player (and his agent) know this and will ask for as much as possible.
In the end, the Chargers will pony up the money because the team cannot afford to let Vasquez walk.
CONTRACT: four years, $6 million.
Nick Novak, Kicker
Novak (9) has an accurate and strong leg.
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It may not be the “sexy” choice, but San Diego needs to re-sign kicker Nick Novak.
Novak connected on 90 percent of his field goals and 100 percent of his extra points. Not only is he accurate, he can also kick from distance, converting 6-of-11 field-goal attempts from 50 yards out or longer in his two years with the Chargers.
CONTRACT: two years, $1.9 million
King Dunlap, Tackle
Dunlap (65) has played left and right tackle for the Eagles.
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Philadelphia Eagle fans will warn others that King Dunlap has an inconsistent motor and makes too many mental mistakes.
San Diego Chargers fans will counter with, “Have you seen our starting tackles?”
Dunlap may not be the best option at offensive tackle, but he will probably be the most cost effective.
There are a ton of free-agent tackle prospects hitting the market, and the athletic group coming out of college only means the price for tackles will plummet. That is great news for San Diego, but it does not mean the Chargers will land a big-name veteran like Jake Long, Branden Albert, Andre Smith or Gosder Cherilus (if you even consider Cherilus a big-name veteran).
Dunlap, however, could be a steal.
He can play right or left tackle and would be an immediate starter for the Chargers while San Diego grooms someone more talented.
CONTRACT: three years, $3 million