The San Diego Chargers went from being seventh in the NFL in punt return yards for the 2010 season to being tied for 25th in this category for 2011. The Chargers signed Eddie Royal to a three year deal worth $13.5 million with $6 million guaranteed on March 15, 2012. Patrick Crayton led San Diego with 22 punt returns for 202 yards in 2011 while Royal had 12 returns for 194 yards and a touchdown in 2011 for the Denver Broncos. The rest of Crayton’s teammates combined for 62 punt return yards.
San Diego’s punt return game took a hit in 2011 due in part to the facts that Antoine Cason only returned one punt for 17 yards after returning 14 punts for 231 yards in 2010. The Chargers also lost Darren Sproles in free agency on July 29, 2011 to the New Orleans Saints for a four year deal worth $14 million and $6 million guaranteed. Sproles returned 24 punts for 166 yards in 2010.
San Diego’s kick return game improved even with the loss of Sproles’ 51 returns for 1,257 yards for an average of 25 yards per return and the team’s 56 returns for 1,342 yards for an average of 24 yards per return in 2010. The team had 43 returns for 1,100 yards for an average of 26 yards per return in 2011 which included 34 returns for 936 yards and a TD with an average of 28 yards per return by Richard Goodman. San Diego re-signed Goodman to a one year deal in the off-season and also signed Roscoe Parrish to a one year deal on April 3, 2012. Parrish led the NFL in yards per return on punts in 2007 and 2008 and is coming off of a season with the Buffalo Bills in which he returned 12 punts for 131 yards for an average of 11 yards per return. The combination of Goodman on kicks with Royal and Parrish on punts should improve San Diego’s return game.