Cost Versus Benefit: Why Kevin Ellison Was Retained by the San Diego Chargers

Chris EggemeyerCorrespondent IJune 8, 2010

SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 20:  Safety Kevin Ellison #25 of the San Diego Chargers celebrates his sack during the game with the Cincinnati Bengals on December 20, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  The Chargers won 27-24.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The latest in the series of enigmas that make up the Chargers' 2010 offseason so far cropped up today as San Diego decided to retain recently arrested safety Kevin Ellison.

If you're like me, you're probably sitting around scratching your head right now. The Chargers have been really tough on legal debacles in the past.

So the question is, why choose to keep Kevin Ellison, especially after the drafting of Darrell Stuckey?



Ellison is entering his second year and could earn another season in the first string strong safety spot. If he continues to develop, he could be a real force in a secondary that could be getting much better very soon.

However, this whole drug debacle has put him out in the cold, and while he has rejoined the team's offseason activities, he may still have one foot out the door. While he has the talent and potential to fight for the spot, he may just be here to provide some competition for rookie Darrell Stuckey and veteran Steve Gregory.

Both of those guys may still be a year or so away from really being able to fit into a starting role, but Ellison may be in too deep. He'll stick around for the offseason to really push the other two strong safety candidates.

This competition will be really interesting, because if Ellison proves that he is head and shoulders above the rest, he will stick around. That's a major if though. At this point, I see the competition he provides as the biggest reason for his retention.


The Chargers Believe His Story

It's not difficult to believe the story that Kevin Ellison has put out concerning the nature of his arrest.

Ellison's injury history would necessitate the use of a heavy painkiller, especially if he plans on working hard this offseason. It actually casts a good light on him in that sense.

Ellison told the authorities he had that amount so that he wouldn't have to bother refilling in the next few months. While this could be a simple cover-up, it could also mean that he has a real desire to work this offseason.

I'm not sure if I believe that. However, if he comes in and works hard, the Chargers will feel justified in their decision.


He May Not Be Replaceable Yet

This was covered a bit under competition, but honestly, Ellison may not be replaceable yet. He has some real chemistry with the current first string D-back line, and he did a great job stepping in for former starter Clinton Hart.

The Chargers see potential in Ellison. That's why they drafted him, and that's why they gave him the starting spot midseason last year.

Gregory is a good backup, but I'm not sure he's good enough to be a starter.

Stuckey, on the other hand, has a real shot at taking over for Ellison. The problem, though, is that Stuckey is a rookie. He hasn't had the opportunity to prove himself, but he has plenty of time to do so.


The Verdict

It's hard to tell why Ellison was invited back to offseason activities. It could be any of the three reasons I've given, but who knows? In the end, I expect Ellison to stick around through his contract, unless his legal issues get worse.

Ellison has great potential and is playing well for a late round draft pick. If his arrest results in continuing legal issues, I'd expect him to be out the door soon. If things smooth out, though, Ellison could be given a fair shot at earning a contract extension this season.