Many San Diego Chargers fans are wondering why general manager Tom Telesco hasn’t made more big-name signings during the first week of free agency. Today’s announcement of compensatory picks in the upcoming NFL Draft is a reminder to Chargers fans why Telesco is making the correct calls.
The Chargers were awarded no compensatory picks despite losing wide receiver Vincent Jackson in free agency a year ago. Compensatory picks are awarded to teams who lose more or better free agents than they acquire. Last offseason, then-GM A.J. Smith added more players than they lost.
Smith’s careless spending spree a year ago should be a blueprint on how not to approach free agency. By desperately overpaying for average players to try to make the team better, Smith got little in return for his investments on the field, while putting the team in a salary cap nightmare and not receiving anything in return for the free agents the Chargers lost.
Telesco already said he plans to build the team through the draft, and with salary cap restrictions, the Bolts couldn’t spend much in free agency even if they wanted to. So far, Telesco has concentrated on targeting cost-effective, borderline starters in free agency. Derek Cox, who signed a four-year, $20 million deal is a bargain as a No. 1 corner if he can stay healthy. King Dunlap, Chad Rinehart, Danny Woodhead and John Phillips all have plenty of potential and should have roles with the team.
Better yet, no one was signed to Robert Meachem-type money.
With seven picks in the NFL Draft and so many holes to fill, Telesco will likely add a few more low-profile players who can compete for a starting spot. Though the mistakes of the old regime still haunt the Chargers, hopefully it acts as a lesson for the new regime to learn from.