Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Defensive players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents for the Chargers include: LB Donald Butler, LB Larry English, CB Richard Marshall, SS Darrell Stuckey, DL Cam Thomas and LB Reggie Walker.
Aside from Butler, who we discussed earlier, the Chargers have some tough decisions to make on defense as well. Starting with the secondary, Marshall and Stuckey are probably two of the more important players from this group.
Marshall, who replaced a struggling Derek Cox, finished fourth on the team in tackles this season and recovered three fumbles (one in the regular season, two in the postseason). Even if the Chargers stick with Cox and continue to work with him in the offseason, an eighth-year veteran like Marshall can be plugged in instantly if Cox should struggle again.
The Chargers have been frequently featured in various mock drafts selecting a corner in the first round, which would make sense given the team's horrible pass defense, but having veterans in house will be needed in addition to bringing in youth. Stuckey, the team's top special teams talent, contributed in the secondary as well this season and could continue to be the No. 2 to Marcus Gilchrist.
The next issue on the defense would be deciding if Thomas is the long-term answer at defensive tackle. Sean Lissemore was brought in from Dallas via trade in early September for a 2015 seventh-round pick, and he challenged Thomas with better numbers this season.
Deciding who to keep, if anyone, will be tough, especially for a defense that needs improvement. The Chargers made the right move to keep defensive coordinator John Pagano, but he'll need better pieces on defense to be successful.