Aside from Buster Davis, the San Diego Chargers’ biggest draft bust in the A.J. Smith era was outside linebacker Larry English. Considered a reach on the day he was drafted, English never lived up to even the low expectations that fans placed on him. He was supposed to give the team another dynamic pass rushing threat alongside Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips but that never happened.
English dealt with injuries early and often throughout his NFL career. His injuries likely stunted his development as a professional player, and even when healthy this past season, he was buried on the depth chart behind Phillips, Jarret Johnson, Melvin Ingram and Antwan Barnes. The few who cared believed that 2012 was the last chance for English to impress. He finished with just 13 tackles and 1.5 sacks in limited playing time.
The four-year pro has one year left on his rookie contract, but most fans wonder how English has even lasted this long on the Chargers’ roster. The question this off-season will be whether the team’s new management will keep him around for yet another season or cut ties with the former first-round pick.
Both Phillips and Barnes are set to be unrestricted free agents. Many believe Phillips’ price tag will be too high for the Chargers to match, while Barnes will likely be looking for more playing time elsewhere after barely seeing the field in 2012.
If neither are retained, San Diego won’t have much depth at the position, and English would immediately move up in the pecking order pending the off-season moves the team makes. Given all the needs on the Chargers’ roster, general manager Tom Telesco may decide to keep English around and concentrate on filling other more important needs. English is set to make $1.275 million in 2013, which isn’t terrible for a guy expected to be in the pass rushing rotation.
If retained, English could see more playing time in 2013. English has talent, but hasn’t been on the field long enough to gain experience and showcase it. If he can stay healthy, maybe he’ll get the opportunity to shed the bust label next season. However, that’s a huge “if.”