I always have my eyes and ears open to potential free agents, even if the Chargers don't sign many of them, that might fit the system and a need here in San Diego. Obviously one of the bigger needs the Bolts have, and it's one of many, is a starting Defensive End. Today the Dallas Cowboys have announced that they are going to let DE Marcus Spears, along with SS Gerald Sensabaugh (we'll get ho him), test the free agent market before doing any sort of negotiating.
This comes a year after the Cowboys decided to tender Marcus as a Restricted Free Agent instead of offering him the long-term contract he was looking for. As you can imagine, from the Chargers experiences with Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson, Spears was none too happy about that. Hoping to have a big season before hitting free agency, Spears ended up playing in just 8 games due to a calf injury.
Marcus has a history of being one of the better 3-4 Defensive Ends in the league, and at 27 years old he's quite young. Although there's been plenty of talk about the Chargers using their first round pick on a DE, the question I'm left with is....when is the last time a Chargers defensive first-round pick won a starting job as a rookie?
Well, there was Shawne Merriman, who didn't get to start until about halfway through the season due to contract negotiations. Same goes for Quentin Jammer. Antonio Cromartie was drafted as a project, Antoine Cason was draft to play Nickel CB until Cromartie was gone, and Larry English has never been good enough to start. I suppose the best answer is actually the DE on the other side, Luis Castillo. Perhaps that's enough of a precedent for the Chargers to throw all their eggs in the "rookie DE" basket, but I'm still a little nervous. it's been a long time since this team has had a stud rookie that was ready to be a star on day 1.
Unless they're quite happy with Vaughn Martin as the starter, the Chargers are going to need to add a DE that is ready to start on day 1. They also need to make sure they have 4 ILBs, and right now only 1 is under contract. They also need a WR, a pass-rushing OLB and might need to do whatever it takes to get Rahim Moore to finally sure up the SS situation. Not every one of these holes can be filled through the draft, and Spears seems like a perfect fit (coming from Wade Phillips system) to take one of the most important ones off the board.