Bolts from the Blue Roundtable: 2012 Off Season - Before Free Agency

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Good afternoon gentlemen. Today we ask the questions: what do you think should be the Chargers' primary focus in free agency this year and then what do you think it actually will be? In case you're slow, that means first you tell me what you want to see then you tell me what you expect to see.

John Gennaro: What I want: Vincent Jackson, Jared Gaither, Jacob Hester, Chester Taylor and Mario Williams. What I expect: Vincent Jackson, Jared Gaither, Jacob Hester and some random veteran OG.

Please feel free to explain your reasoning.

John Gennaro: Does "I'm smarter than A.J. Smith" suffice?

creanium: No. That only qualifies you for access to the SDUT comment boards.

Hopefully the rest of the group is more interested in discussing the matter.

Orz: Apologies for not knowing names of available FA's. Should be:

1. Outside Pass Rush,
2. Jared Gaither
2a. Nick Hardwick
3. Strong Safety
4. Nose Tackle
5. Jacob Hester
6. Laurent Robinson type (but keep him this time)

Because:

-VJ's price tag is disproportionately high for his production. Do not want.
-Tyronne Green or moving Jeromey Clary can replace Dielman on the (relatively) cheaps
-Cam Thomas needs a vet to platoon with (don't care about which starts)
-Strong Safety has been a problem since Rodney Harrison left, and Darrell Stuckey needs competition to push him or beat him
-They should draft offensive line, wide receiver, tight end, running back, and go all in on Kory Sperry, Vincent Brown, and Curtis Brinkley

My general thinking here is (other than keeping Oline FA's not named McNeill) fix the defense now, develop to maintain the offense.

Will be:
1. VJ at a discount
2. Outside Pass Rush
3. Center/Oguard/Left Tackle
4. Tolbert or 3rd down replacement.

Because:
The good news is that between McNeill, Dielman, and Castillo coming off the books, maybe it'll be OK to pay VJ, if Gaither and Hardwick can be had on the cheaps and Greene can be a full time left guard. The brass won't go all in on Brown or Brinkley, and won't want to draft Oline for immediate impact, or rely on Greene.

Thank you, Orz. Anyone else?

jkvandal: I'm going to concur with Orz on this one. Defense needs to be fixed immediately and unfortunately we can't count on rookies to come in and start immediately at all positions of need: OLB, SS. There is a chance the Chargers could come out of the draft with two starters but that is a big roll of the dice and highly dependent on who falls to us.

Here are my priorities for Free Agency (operating under the assumption that McNeill is gone):

1. Jared Gaither

2. Pass Rusher

3. Nick Hardwick

4. Vincent Jackson

5. Strong Safety

My Draft priorities:

1. Pass Rusher

2. Tight End

3. OLine Depth

4. Slot WR/KR/PR

5. 3rd down RB

I would personally like to see a pass rusher from both Free Agency and from the draft. I think the team would benefit from having VJ back, and while the team really needs a better SS, if it comes down to one or the other, I would prefer VJ. Reason being that the secondary should look much better with an improved pass rush.

What I think will happen:

Free Agency:
1. Offensive Tackle (Gaither)
2. VJ
3. O-Line Depth
4. 3rd down back/KR

Draft:
1. Pass Rusher
2. O-Line
3. TE
4. ILB
5. SS

This is my knee jerk reaction to the question, I'll probably have a different thought on this after the weekend though.

Thanks for the lists, guys. Anyone want to take a crack at the question without resorting to the numbered list?

Superduperboltman: For me, it's quite simple. Priority number one, it's to get an offensive line formed for Philip Rivers. Left tackle and guard need to be addressed. You can't win games without scoring no matter how good your defense.

Priority number two, the whole flippin defense. The defensive line needs Antonio Garay and/or Luis Castillo (if he can be brought back cheaper) and the younger guys can handle the rotation. Strong Safety needs an answer immediately through free agency, and of course, the pass rush needs an elite rusher, even if it's just a 3rd down rusher to keep Shaun Phillips and Antwan Barnes fresh and I still, unbelievably, have one last sliver of hope for Larry English to put something together, so maybe he can be a third down only rusher with the new endbacker that AJ better find.

Because you can only do so much, I'll leave it at that since it's what's most important. If you want my bonuses, I'll say a somewhat dynamic RB that can maybe contribute on third down (Ronnie Hillman?), a big WR that will most likely need developing, and a balanced TE to deal with the aging Randy McMichael and injured Antonio Gates.

Jeff Siniard: What would I do if I were Chargers GM?
Sign Jared Gaither - he was terrific down the stretch last season, and we saw the disaster that was our offense with a turnstile at LT during the game at home against Oakland.

Re-sign Nick Hardwick - I think that keeping Hardwick (with Gaither) really settles the OL issues down, and allows the team to continue forward with Tyronne Green, at LG.

Sign Mario Williams - I really don't think that I need to explain this.

Re-sign Vincent Jackson - I don't think this as high a priority as the other items above, mostly because 2006 proved we can perform well enough on offense without having a premier WR (though that was with Gates and Tomlinson in their prime). Also, instead of paying $9-12 million/year for Jackson, there are other quality WRs that would likely cost less (Marques Colston, Reggie Wayne, Mario Manningham, Mike Wallace). Please note that I am not endorsing all of these players or that they will all be available (Wallace is restricted). That said, anything that keeps Philip happy is a good thing.

Re-sign Jacob Hester - May not be as versatile on offense as we'd like, but he's smart in the run game and as a pass protector, and a quality ST player.

What do I think will happen?

Gaither and Hardwick get signed, as I can't see Norv and AJ turning over 3/5ths of the O-Line with their jobs hanging in the balance.

If they can't get Mario Williams, I could see the Chargers taking a run at either an older / next level down player which will allow them to do more to keep other players.

I'm really 50/50 on whether Jackson comes back. I think everything has to break right for it to happen.

Thank you for contributing, gents. Please tell us what you think in the comments.

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