The San Diego Chargers were unable to re-sign unrestricted free agent Vincent Jackson as he signed a five year deal with Tampa Bay. San Diego was able to re-sign center Nick Hardwick and left tackle Jared Gaither as well as add wide receivers Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal. Meachem should fit in well as he averaged 43 receptions for 15 yards per reception and about seven touchdowns the last three seasons. Royal ranked eighth, 13th and 24th in punt return yards the last three seasons while returning a touchdown in two of the last three seasons. The reliable linebacker/defensive end Jarret Johnson was added to the team, Demorrio Williams was signed to add depth at linebacker and Le’Ron McClain was signed to be Ryan Mathews’ backup and protect him in the run game. The Chargers were $15 million under the cap entering the off season, and cleared an additional $11.6 million for 2012 when Kris Dielman retired and they released Marcus McNeill and Luis Castillo. The average salary for these players equals about $30 million in 2012.
I do not expect Philip Rivers to be the monster he was in 2010 as he was first in the NFL in passing yards, second in quarterback rating, third in completion percentage and fifth in touchdown passes with Jackson only playing in five games while Rivers only threw 13 interceptions. At the same time, I do not expect Rivers to be so trigger happy that he throws 20 interceptions like he did in 2011 with Jackson appearing in all 16 games.
The Chargers have a running back in Mathews who ran for 1,091 yards which ranked 10th among RB’s in the NFL. There will be added pressure on Mathews this season, but San Diego still needs him to take pressure away from Rivers and the receiving core. It is strange that Rivers threw 30 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2010 when his leading rusher had 735 yards on four yards per attempt, but threw 27 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 2011 when his leading rusher had 1,091 yards on five yards per attempt. The Chargers still need a pass rusher to go along with Antwan Barnes, but their offense should be fine in 2012.