The San Diego Chargers were ranked second as a team during the 2010 NFL season with 47 sacks, but they dropped 21 spots and were ranked 23rd during the 2011 season with 32 sacks. Shaun Phillips averaged nine sacks per season from 2005-2010, but had just 3.5 during the 2011 season. Phillips fought through an injured foot which caused him to miss four games in 2011, so he could return to form in 2012. Antwan Barnes led the team with 11 sacks, and had more sacks than the second, third and fourth leaders combined on the team in this category. Barnes and Phillips are linebackers, so adding Cliff Avril would allow San Diego to put pressure on quarterbacks with a defensive end.
Avril racked up 11 sacks during the 2011 season, forced six fumbles and recovered three. Barnes had 11 sacks, but San Diego’s team forced seven fumbles and their defense had five fumble recoveries. Avril has averaged 1.5 sacks per game the last two seasons on Detroit. The Lions have discussed the possibility of using the franchise tag on Avril to prevent him from signing with another team in 2012. Avril may or may not be an option during the off-season for the Chargers.
If signing Avril is a realistic possibility, the Chargers should make a strong push to sign him. San Diego needs another pass rusher because if Barnes goes down, it will be the responsibility of Phillips and an unproven rookie to put pressure on quarterbacks. Avril will only be 26 years old when the 2012 season starts, so San Diego would have a young and proven pass rusher. This signing would eliminate the chance of re-signing Vincent Jackson, but San Diego could draft Michael Floyd or Kendall Wright, or they could try to sign and trade Jackson with other picks to get Justin Blackmon and still have a solid team.