NFL San Diego Chargers: Top 10 Free Agents To Target

Thomas ConroyCorrespondent IJuly 27, 2011

NFL San Diego Chargers: Top 10 Free Agents To Target

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    Let the bidding begin!

    Under the new collective bargaining agreement, no unrestricted free agent can officially sign with an NFL team until Friday afternoon. Until that time, general managers are zeroing in on players who have become disenchanted with their former teams to try and entice them to become the missing pieces for their squads. Sometimes, this is a recipe for success.

    Here are the top 10 free agents for the San Diego Chargers to target:

Vincent Jackson

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    San Diego Chargers GM A.J. Smith has reiterated that the team isn’t willing to commit a big money contract for Vincent Jackson. It’s a gamble that could be costly both on and off the field.

    On Friday afternoon, when VJ signs his one-year tender offer, he could be beginning his final season in San Diego. Management has to stop low-balling a player that is a vital cog in their offense.

    Arguably, Philip Rivers is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, as he lights up defenses through the air. But, Rivers will need quality receivers to throw the football to besides Antonio Gates, who isn’t getting any younger.

    If Jackson has a big season, then expect another team to have no problem committing long-term to him. 

Takeo Spikes

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    According to SignonSanDiego, the Chargers have signed ILB Takeo Spikes to a three-year contract. This is a short-term solution, as Spikes will turn 35-years old during the course of this season.

    The Chargers are taking a big risk because regression comes hard and quick in the NFL. Spikes is a true leader and very familiar with defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s philosophy. With this knowledge, he could pay immediate dividends on the field. 

Nick Barnett

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    The Green Bay Packers have reportedly cut ties with the talented LB Nick Barnett, and he will become one of the hottest free agents available on the open market. Barnett has the experience of playing in both the 4-3 and 3-4 defenses, as he dominates play from the inside linebacker position.

    The one knock on him is that Barnett has suffered season-ending injuries in two of his last three seasons, but he is relatively young at 30-years old. The Chargers envision him stepping in and becoming their defensive signal-caller immediately. 

Eric Weddle

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    The Chargers rolled the dice by allowing S Eric Weddle to test the free agent market, and they came up sevens.

    According to SignonSanDiego, both sides have agreed to a five-year, $40 deal this morning. By far, he is their most athletic player in the secondary. Now, management might consider moving CB Quentin Jammer to the SS position, as he is a more ferocious tackler than Weddle.

    He had scheduled meetings with three teams (Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts), as each was desperate to acquire an every down safety, especially the Colts, who cut Bob Sanders (signed with the Chargers prior to the lockout) and Melvin Bullett is considered injury-prone. 

Stephen Tulloch

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    Stephen Tulloch will be one of the most sought after free agents on the open market.

    They’re few inside LBs that play the run like him, as Tulloch is a hitter that will get a lot of tackling opportunities behind the Chargers front four. Last season, they had their problems stopping the run and every team in the AFC West runs the football exclusively, so acquiring Tulloch is a major upgrade.

    On passing downs, he can also cover TEs that roam over the middle. 

Ryan Harris

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    Signing Ryan Harris would be a tremendous upgrade to the offensive line, even though he played poorly for most of last season. Harris did turn it around late in the year after he recovered fully from a foot injury.

    The former All-Pro could be a bargain and instill some competition at the tackle position. Worst case scenario is that Harris adds depth to the line. He would be a big coup, especially taking someone away from your divisional rival. 

Robert Meachem

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    This is an excellent opportunity to go with a young wideout that has tremendous upside. When healthy, Robert Meachem is a great No. 2 receiver, as he is one of the best blocking WRs in the NFL. Just picture Jackson and Gates being double-teamed downfield, Meachem will be an excellent option for Rivers coming across the middle. 

Joseph Addai

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    The best aspect of Joseph Addai’s game is that he can catch the football coming out of the backfield. Head Coach Norv Turner loves speedy RBs, but the one drawback with Addai is that he has been injury-prone for the last few seasons. If he was just a bit bigger, then Addai would challenge Ryan Mathews for his starting position, but he is still an ideal third-down back. 

Shawn Andrews

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    Shawn Andrews is a hard-working OL that offers the experience to backup all five positions. He knows how to run-block, which has been a problem for the Chargers at times last season. Andrews isn’t the All-Pro player from his days in Philadelphia, but he is a very serviceable lineman. 

Manny Lawson

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    This move makes sense, as Manny Lawson is very comfortable playing in Manusky’s defensive scheme. He was the San Francisco 49ers first-round selection in 2005, but he hasn’t become the true pass rusher they envisioned.

    A change of scenery and a fresh new start with a playoff contender might be just what the doctor ordered for Lawson. Chargers need someone to rush the quarterback and take some pressure off of Shaun Phillips.