After being the champions of the AFC West for five out of six years from 2004 to 2009, the San Diego Chargers have painfully watched their division rivals take what they thought would be theirs for the past three seasons.
Fans are tired of mediocrity and want to see an immediate push for the division crown as soon as possible. However, the Chargers’ offseason moves prove that there will be no quick fix for this team.
Nine starters, as well as a handful of top backups, from last years’ team are gone. Though starting fresh and rebuilding from scratch will be better in the long haul, the Chargers may not be competitive in 2013 as a result. Restricted by the salary cap, the Chargers have lost much more than they’ve gained in free agency and on paper, appear even worse now than last years’ 7-9 squad.
When looking around the division, the Denver Broncos might be the best team in the league right now, while even the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders are making moves that will help them in the near future.
This offseason, the Chiefs upgraded their quarterback position by trading for Alex Smith, signed a number of quality free agents, and hold the first overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. The Chiefs may have been the worst team in the league last season, but should rebound and be much more competitive in 2013. Meanwhile, the Raiders traded for quarterback Matt Flynn, who has much more upside than the aging Carson Palmer. Much like the Chargers, the Raiders also lost a lot of players in free agency and are in rebuilding mode. However, they have a more stable offensive line than San Diego and hold the third overall pick in the draft.
The other teams in the division are making good moves this offseason and should be more competitive next season.
But the Chargers still have Philip Rivers, and though he’s struggled over the past two years, he’s still much better than Smith and Flynn. They also have developing talent in guys like Eric Weddle, Donald Butler and Corey Liuget. The Bolts will likely have plenty of first-year starters and rookies contributing next season, but as long as they draft well, they should avoid being basement dwellers in the AFC West.