NFL San Diego Chargers

5 Impending Free Agents San Diego Chargers Must Keep in 2014

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San Diego Chargers: 5 Impending Free Agents Team Must Keep in 2014

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Hanging on to key free agents hasn’t exactly been the forte of the San Diego Chargers in the recent past. Players like Drew Brees, Darren Sproles and Vincent Jackson have all said sayonara to the organization only to move on and shine with other franchises.

But that all took place under the previous regime, and there’s reason to believe that new head coach Mike McCoy and general manager Tom Telesco will do everything in their power to keep important contributors to their football team on the roster.

After a successful first season that culminated in the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2009 and first playoff win since 2008, it seems like the Chargers are headed in the right direction. In order to maintain that upward trajectory, however, the team must keep some important pieces to that winning puzzle in place heading into 2014.

The salary cap is going to need to finagling for the Bolts to keep all of their crucial pieces around next season, but there are five players that the team could easily bid adieu to that could free up some serious free cash for the organization. It’s impossible to count on those moves actually taking place, however, so this club will again need to be wise in its spending habits and perhaps restructure some deals with guys like Philip Rivers or Antonio Gates to make ends meet.

Regardless of where exactly the team chooses to trim the fat from its roster, these five impending free agents must be brought back for the 2014 campaign.

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5. Danario Alexander, WR

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Only at the right price will the injury-prone Danario Alexander be brought back to catch passes from Philip Rivers in 2014. A torn ACL kept DX from seeing any action in 2013, and his troubling history of knee injuries makes him a big risk for any team choosing to have him on the roster. What makes him appealing is the fact that a bargain deal should be possible given the apprehension to add him by others around the league, and when he was on the field, Rivers had a tremendous chemistry with Alexander in the latter part of the 2012 season.

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4. Darrell Stuckey, S

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He may be listed as a safety, but there’s no question Darrell Stuckey’s value to this team lies on special teams. As the gunner on the unit, Stuckey has been the best thing since Kassim Osgood for the San Diego special teams group. Punter Mike Scifres will surely attest to his value in the third phase of the game, and a reasonable contract should be possible given his lack of playing time in the base defense for the team.

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3. Rich Ohrnberger, OG

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Rich Ohrnberger stepped in for Nick Hardwick at center in a pinch during the Wild-Card game at the Cincinnati Bengals and didn’t miss a beat. Though he isn’t a real brand-name as far as offensive linemen are concerned, depth players like the soon to be 28-year-old Ohrnberger aren’t easy to find. Injuries are bound to happen along the offensive line every season, and keeping him for insurance purposes would be a very wise investment.

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2. Chad Rinehart, OG

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Some players just fit certain blocking schemes, and Chad Rinehart is a member of that fraternity as he followed offensive line coach Joe D’Allesandris from the Buffalo Bills last offseason to San Diego where he excelled. He is the ideal fit for the zone-blocking tactics that really enhanced the Bolts’ running game this past season, and finding a better guard in free agency or the draft to take his place would be a difficult task. It may be tough to make the numbers work, but Rinehart should be a top priority this offseason for GM Tom Telesco and company.

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1. Donald Butler, LB

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no question that linebacker Donald Butler is top priority for the Bolts prior to the free agency period even kicking off this offseason. He is a budding leader of the defense, and at just 25 years of age with some terrific production already on his resume in John Pagano’s defense this kid needs to stick around. Manti Te’o may blossom into a solid starter in the near future, but the 3-4 scheme requires a duo of solid inside linebackers to thrive. That’s something these Bolts haven’t had since the heyday of Donnie Edwards and Randall Godfrey nearly a decade ago now. Keeping Butler is absolutely paramount to any plans the Chargers have of maintaining the success they found in year one under head coach Mike McCoy and building on it.

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