Rookie minicamp has ended and OTAs (organized team activities) are about to start. The San Diego Chargers‘ offseason is officially over, and the 2014 NFL season is almost upon us. Let’s take a look at everything the Chargers did this offseason from free agency to undrafted rookie signings.
Players Re-signed: OL Chad Rinehart, OL Rich Ohrnberger, WR Seyi Ajirotutu, LB Donald Butler (extension), LB Reggie Walker, CB Richard Marshall and S Darrell Stuckey.
Re-signing Rinehart and Ohrnberger gives the Chargers’ offensive line better continuity and brings back all five starters. Stuckey was a vital piece being the special teams captain and Walker had a solid season with career highs in tackles (36) and sacks (3). Extending Butler was San Diego’s best move. He’s been their most consistent linebacker over the past three years.
Veteran Addition: RB Donald Brown, QB Kellen Clemens, TE David Johnson, DE Cordarro Law, LB Kavell Connor and CB Brandon Ghee.
The Chargers were very quiet over free agency and didn’t make any big moves. Three of the players (Johnson, Connor and Ghee) they signed have a history of injuries, and Brown should provide much-needed depth behind injury-plagued Ryan Mathews. Law is a very intriguing addition. After going undrafted in 2012, he’s spent the past two years in Canada and broke out last season with 14 sacks for Calgary.
Subtractions: RB Ronnie Brown, FB Le’Ron McClain, QB Charlie Whitehurst, WR Danario Alexander, WR Lavelle Hawkins, OL Stephen Schilling, NT Cam Thomas, LB Bront Bird, LB Tarrell Manning, CB Derek Cox and CB Johnny Patrick.
The only player the Chargers might miss here is Thomas. They’re left with very little experience at the pivotal nose tackle position with only Sean Lissemore, Kwame Geathers and rookie Ryan Carrethers. Cutting Cox was a must with his horrific play last year, but the Chargers took a big cap hit ($3.9M) with the move.
NFL Draft Picks: 1-CB Jason Verrett, 2-LB Jeremiah Attaochu, 3-OL Chris Watt, 5-NT Ryan Carrethers, 6-RB Marion Grice and 7-WR Tevin Reese.
Verrett should immediately help the Charger’s secondary. Moving up to get Attaochu could pay dividends in the pass-rush, but trading away a fourth round pick hurt the rest of San Diego’s draft. Even though they filled position needs, I felt they reached for Watt and settled for Carrethers. Drafting Grice was surprising after signing Brown in free agency and Reese is an intriguing player because of his speed, but his light frame (5-foot-11, 163-pounds) and route running are concerns.
Undrafted Rookie Additions: OT Jeremiah Sirles, OG D.J. Johnson, OG Craig Watts, RB D.J. Adams, RB Branden Oliver, TE Mike Flacco, WR Torrence Allen, WR Brelan Chancellor, WR Micha Hatfield, WR Javontee Herndon, DE Colton Underwood, DT Tenny Palepoi, DT Ricky Tjong-a-Tjoe, LB Alvin Scioneaux, CB Chris Davis, CB Greg Ducre, S Alden Darby and P Chase Tenpenny.
Most of these players won’t make the final cut, but the Chargers made sure to address their return game with Chancellor and Davis. Allen played very well at West Texas A&M and could provide depth at receiver. It was a little surprising that Ducre went undrafted. He could give the Chargers’ secondary another good athlete, and Palepoi is another big body that could be used in a rotation up front.
When analyzing what the rest of the AFC West did this offseason, I put the Chargers tied for third with the Kansas City Chiefs (Grade: C) and behind the Denver Broncos (Grade: A) and Oakland Raiders (Grade: B). When looking at the Chargers’ roster there are still big question marks at receiver, nose tackle, left tackle and opposite Verrett at corner.
Beyond Keenan Allen, the Chargers’ receivers were disappointing last year. On the defensive line they’re relying on Lissemore (a defensive end), Geathers (an undrafted rookie last year) and Carrethers (a fifth-round pick this year) to hold down the nose tackle position. That’s not much experience at an important position. It was also surprising they didn’t address the left tackle position. King Dunlap played well when he was healthy, but that’s the issue. He’s dealt with injuries his entire career and is now in a contract year. Outside of Verrett (assuming he plays up to his first-round selection) not much was done to upgrade one of the worst units in the NFL last season.
Overall Offseason Grade: C