Earlier this week, the San Diego Chargers had WR/KR Marc Mariani work out. Mariani seems like a Wes Welker-slot receiver type who can get speed it up in open space. Even though, Mariani was an interesting prospect for the Chargers, his signing on March 19 with the Tennessee Titans leaves the Chargers in the dust.
Though there are rumors that DeSean Jackson could be acquired, it is merely driving up the demand for the benefit of the Philadelphia Eagles. With only $3.2 million in cap room, the Chargers look desperate for talent. Kick returns have been lackluster due to a few reasons like expecting an aging, injury-prone Eddie Royal to break away from tackles and then placing high expectation on their No. 1 receiver.
The search to improve their return game is leaning toward the draft. The lack of affordable talent in free agency makes the Chargers more willing to take a chance on somebody in the draft who could play opposite Keenan Allen and also handle the return duties.
For 2014, the Chargers should be getting a kick returner combo in the form of a wide receiver. Sammy Watkins (Clemson) and Odell Beckham (LSU) are the top 2014 NFL Draft prospects that could double on offense and special teams. Watkins is looking like a top-10 pick who shouldn’t be there at 25 and I do not expect the Chargers to trade up to get a kick returner. Beckham is the only one that makes sense at 25, if they choose to go that route.
Even though Mariani didn’t work out in the Chargers’ favor, it clearly means that Mariani leveraged the Chargers’ gaping hole at kick returner for a bigger payday. It’s a shame that Mariani didn’t get a chance to start clean and away from the shadows of Tennessee and help a team that would greatly benefit from his services.