The San Diego Chargers definitely have some good pieces on the team that they can build around. On the defensive side of the ball, Eric Weddle, Donald Butler and Corey Liuget are just three of the younger players on the team who are playing at a high level. The team also has high hopes for young players like Melvin Ingram, Kendall Reyes and Marcus Gilchrist, who could soon take that next step to stardom.
However, there is just as much pessimism about the team as there is optimism.
The roster has holes along just about the entire offensive line and secondary and lack depth at almost every position. At 7-9 last season, San Diego didn’t beat a team that finished with a winning record, while four of the Chargers’ seven wins were against the division doormat Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders. If the Chargers were in a tougher division, they could have been a bottom five team in the NFL.
So are the Chargers in rebuilding mode? There are certainly differing opinions among fans, but the only opinion that really matters is that of general manager Tom Telesco and the team’s front office.
If the front office truly believes they are in rebuilding mode, it will affect their decisions on who will stay and who will go. Telesco may use 2013 as a rebuilding year and choose to stick with younger players to develop while dumping the older veterans.
Players like Shaun Phillips, Quentin Jammer, Aubrayo Franklin and Ronnie Brown, who are all on the wrong side of 30, could be allowed to walk as free agents. Though Shaun Phillips is still playing at a high level, the front office may not want to invest in him while the team could be years from being competitive.
Guys under contract like Takeo Spikes, Atari Bigby and Antonio Garay could see the chopping block if the team doesn’t feel they are worth their current contracts and wants to give their roster spots to younger players.
What Telesco does (or doesn’t do) in free agency will determine the team’s mentality heading into the 2013 season and determine if they are indeed in rebuilding mode. If the team sits out in the spending spree that is free agency and allows its older, more expensive players to find new teams, the organization will allow young players to take their lumps early and hope they develop.
But that doesn’t mean fans should throw in the towel on the 2013 season. Keep in mind, it worked last season for Telesco’s old team – the Indianapolis Colts.