San Diego signs Hardwick and Meachem, but have yet to make a splash in free agency

By Kenny Gardner

San Diego made two moves that needed to happen for them in the off-season.  They brought back former Pro Bowl center Nick Hardwick with a three year deal and the team added depth to the wide receiver position by signing Robert Meachem to a four year deal.  Hardwick started all 16 games in 2011 for a San Diego team that allowed the eighth fewest sacks and the third fewest hits to their team’s quarterbacks. Marcus McNeill started nine games at left tackle for the Chargers in 2011 while Kris Dielman started six games at guard.  McNeill was released yesterday and Dielman retired last month.  San Diego’s offensive line was great in 2011, but they still need to add depth.

Meachem is coming off a 2011 season in which he caught 40 passes for 620 yards and six touchdowns.  Meachem’s best season was in 2009 when he caught 45 passes for 722 yards and nine touchdowns.  The 27 year old, 6-2 Meachem gives San Diego some depth at a position which required it.  Malcom Floyd led San Diego in receiving yards per game in 2011 and led the NFL in yards per reception, but Floyd missed at least four games in each of the last two seasons.

If the Lightning Bolts cannot sign free agent Mario Williams to give them a pass rusher, they should make an attempt at signing restricted free agent Mike Wallace.  Wallace had 72 receptions for 1,193 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on a Steelers team that was 19th in pass attempts per game in 2011.  Wallace was fifth in receiving yards and tied for seventh in touchdown receptions during the 2010 season when Pittsburgh was 27th in pass attempts per game.  If San Diego signs Williams, they should go after an offensive lineman or a wide receiver in the first round of April’s NFL Draft.  If the Chargers cannot sign Williams, they should go after a pass rusher in the first round because San Diego went from being tied for second in sacks in 2010 to being tied for 23rd in this category in 2011.

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