According to the team’s official website, the San Diego Chargers released kick returner/wide receiver Richard Goodman today. Goodman ranked seventh in the NFL with an average of 27.5 yards per kick return in 2011. Goodman missed nine games in 2012 due to a hamstring injury that he suffered against the Cleveland Browns but ranked fifth with an average of 27.6 yards per kick return.
San Diego ranked 13th in the league with an average of 23.9 yards per kick return in 2012. Goodman and Micheal Spurlock combined to average about 27 yards per kick return in 2012, but Spurlock signed with the Detroit Lions, so San Diego will be without their leaders from last year.
According to U-T San Diego beat writer Michael Gehlken, former Texas Longhorns running back Fozzy Whittaker may handle kick returns. Whittaker had 10 returns and averaged 42 yards per kick return with two touchdowns during his senior year in 2011. Goodman averaged 22 yards per kick return on 13 returns in the preseason this year while Whittaker had four returns and averaged 18 yards per return.
2011 was Whittaker’s only season as a kick returner. There is no guarantee that Whittaker’s success at the collegiate level will translate to success in the pros, but he could receive some chances. Goodman’s 2013 cap hit would have been $630,000 while Whittaker’s is $405,000 so money was not the issue that led to Goodman’s release.
San Diego ranked 20th in points per game and 30th in yards per play on offense in 2012. I do not expect the Chargers to be this bad on offense again, but the field position battle could be huge for them. San Diego averaged about 17 yards per kick return without Goodman and Spurlock handling the returns.
Whittaker has not returned a kick in a regular season NFL game. Goodman was one of the best kick returners over the last two seasons, so releasing him could be a mistake.