San Diego Chargers’ Top Position of Need: Left Tackle or Outside Linebacker?
San Diego has been a travel destination for several big-name free agents already this offseason. Whether it was Bryant McKinnie, Max Starks, or now Dwight Freeney, it seems like the San Diego Chargers may finally become one of those teams that can attract some name brand talent. In one way that is a positive thing since the team hasn’t made flashy free agent moves for quite some time, but in another light it is worrisome because it means the club is desperate for help.
The question that it boils down to for the Chargers at this point is which position is a bigger need: left tackle or outside linebacker? Obviously this warrants further investigation.
After allowing 49 sacks a year ago, it almost seems silly to think that anywhere not on the offensive line would be a bigger need for the Bolts. Jared Gaither was finally kicked to the curb, but that vacancy at left tackle has yet to be filled. Starks is the latest name on the team’s radar, but he had a visit with the Arizona Cardinals recently. The Cards have already stolen free agent cornerback target Jerraud Powers right out from under the Bolts, and the team must prevent the same thing from happening with Starks.
With that being said, getting sacks is just as important as preventing them in today’s NFL. The Chargers had 38.0 a season ago ranking in the middle of the pack, but that number was padded by an 11 sack performance in week 16 against the New York Jets. Just 27 sacks in the 15 other games during the season wasn’t enough, and with the season-ending injury to Melvin Ingram already, the Bolts must find production from somewhere. It’s hard to see how Freeney would fit the 3-4 alignment after his adjustment struggles a year ago, but the Bolts must have something in mind.
This is just one writer’s opinion, but left tackle has to be a more pressing need for San Diego. Quarterback Philip Rivers has seen a serious decline in numbers and an even more exaggerated decline in confidence over the past two seasons. His turnovers in the 2011 and 2012 seasons combine to a higher total than his touchdowns over that time span, and those types of numbers happen when a quarterback is feeling pressure even when it isn’t around due to previous experiences in the pocket. While it would be nice to add Freeney into the pass rushing mix, getting Starks to sign on should take precedence.