San Diego Chargers: Best and Worst Moves Made in Free Agency
The common perception about the Chargers these days is that Tom Telesco is trying to navigate the salary cap hell left for him by A.J. Smith. The Broncos, on the other hand, are going "all in" and are the current favorites to win the Super Bowl. Of course, Peyton Manning and Wes Welker don't have a mound of championships independent of each other. It's more than a bit premature to hold a coronation for them.
But are the Bolts truly planning to take a step or two back in order to move forward in the future? Smith and former head coach Norv Turner were jettisoned after three straight non-playoff seasons. Telesco's "rebuilding" strategy landed the Colts back in the postseason one year after overhauling the roster. For now, all we can do is analyze the moves that he's made (or hasn't made) thus far in San Diego.
BEST: Sign Danny Woodhead
Zoinks! It's amazing that Dean Spanos didn't have to pay Woodhead in Scooby Snacks. But despite his appearance, Woodhead is as hard-nosed as they come. His versatility should allow Ronnie Brown to finish out his twilight years by being used far more sparingly than last season.
What does Woodhead mean for the future of Ryan Mathews? Telesco would be foolish not to be skeptical about Mathews' durability and effectiveness for 2013. If Mathews had already panned out, the GM job in San Diego wouldn't have been open.
But Woodhead is also the only acquisition that the Chargers have made thus far that fans can even feel remotely good about. Smith's legacy will not only be the bloated contracts that Telesco is dealing with, but his inability to keep talent in San Diego. Woodhead at least gives Boltheads some hope.
WORST: Jared Gaither Is Still a Possibility
He probably won't return, but Gaither shouldn't even have a mailing address in San Diego at this point. Even before Telesco was hired, Spanos suggested that Gaither's exile would not be guaranteed.
But even if "The Big Lazy" isn't as problematic as fans perceive him to be, the players seem to think that he was less than genuine in his desire to work through injury. If Mike McCoy wants the players to buy in, a guy with Gaither's work ethic (or lack thereof) can't even be in the discussion at this point.
BEST: Letting Antoine Cason Go
It would probably be a stretch to call Cason a bust. He ended his career in San Diego much like the man who he replaced, Antonio Cromartie. Cromarite was not nearly the liability in New York that he was in San Diego. That speaks volumes about the defensive talent around him and the coaching that he received.
Nonetheless, Cason was burned repeatedly. The Chargers' 2010 season officially ended when Cason was caught napping in Cincinnati. He surrendered three touchdowns against the Jets the following season. He was hardly worth keeping for this season.
WORST: Signing King Dunlap
A simple Internet search will reveal that Dunlap was the Eagles' version of Jeromey Clary. Dunlap is not expected to start like Clary, but bringing him to San Diego doesn't inspire confidence that Philip Rivers will be well protected in 2013.
Last week, McCoy admitted that getting Philip Rivers "right" was his top priority. As much as Rivers doesn't like to say that he needs "fixing," McCoy was brought in to do just that.
The Chargers may still upgrade the offensive line via free agency. However, Eric Winston has only received official interest from the Dolphins. The Bolts may be gauging the market perfectly for all we know.
At the very least, Telesco could have cut Clary before he signed another team's version of him.
UNDECIDED: Giving Danario Alexander Low Tender
There's a lot of uncertainty with this move. Thus far, no one has scooped Alexander up. Last season, he often seemed like the only receiver on the the roster capable of fighting for the football. However, he does have a history of injuries, which is why the Chargers were able to sign him to begin with.
Alexander's career in San Diego thus far isn't all that dissimilar from Gaither's. It will be interesting to see if this gamble pays off, or if it was really a gamble at all. Hopefully, Chargers fans won't have to pay the price once again.