BFTB Roundtable: Which Free Agent should the San Diego Chargers sign?

Joel Auerbach

The Chargers are in serious need of talent on both sides of the ball, especially defense. The BFTB staff gives their opinions on what one player would be a great addition to the team.

Derek Cox was probably the worst free agent signing in the NFL this year. The team clearly has many positions on the roster in need of depth and a talent infusion. What one player do you see as a good fit and why? Jason's up first.

Jason Peters

The secondary is obviously the place with the biggest need, so let's look there. The Derek Cox contract is horrible, and unfortunately it looks like he'll be on the team next season. Last year's 5th round pick Steve Williams should be back, and Shareece Wright will be entering the last year of his contract. Richard Marshall will be a free agent, and I'd say we should let him walk.

There are several big names that should land large contracts (Brent Grimes, Sam Shields, Charles Tillman), but I like Tarell Brown. A solid corner with the 49ers, he would be a significant improvement at a clear position of need.

A squealing, greased up pig would make a better cornerback than Derek Cox or Richard Marshall. I like literally any free agent to come in and win the starting job just by presence. Right, Fearless Leader?

John Gennaro

BRENT GRIMES! I've been ringing the Brent Grimes bell for a year now. Grimes was spectacular in 2011 (#2 CB behind Revis) with the Falcons before missing 2012 with a torn ACL. The Dolphins signed him to a 1-year contract before this season and he, once again, finished as the 2nd best CB in the league (according to PFF) behind Darrelle Revis. Long story short, the guy is a shutdown cornerback. He's 30, but probably has at least 2-3 years left of being better than anything else in the Chargers defensive backfield.

He'll require the team to open their wallets, and fans might be weary that he's another Derek Cox, but a shutdown CB can completely change the way a defense functions. I've argued this point before, when I said that the Chargers should trade for Revis.

Sounds good to me. I think signing him to a 2 year deal would be amazing. But what about someone who could be here longer? Let's hear from Sir Posey for that one:

Kyle Posey

This was tough for me, because there are at least 10 unrestricted free agents that could come in & be instant impacts. First, narrow it down to players that can help in the long run, or under 27. Then it goes to premier positions. While Hakeem Nicks would flourish in the Chargers scheme, and is only 25, I feel like he's going to want a pretty penny. Greg Hardy is another 25 year old coming off a season that's a career for most, but he's going to break the bank.

Enter Sam Shields, who the Chargers could've had last year for a 2nd round pick. I thought it was an easy decision to make then, & in hindsight, I bet Telesco is kicking himself for not pulling the trigger now. Shields is 26, can play inside & outside, is 5'11 & will bring a dimension that the Chargers don't have. Speed. & explosiveness. At his pro day he ran a 4.33 40 yards dash with a 39" vertical. Shields shadowed #1 receivers for Green Bay, and would allow San Diego to do more on defense, as far as be more aggressive.

I too wanted Shields. He's been a solid corner. Anyone for offense?

Jerome Watson

This is tough. I really admire the leap Jahleel Addae has made but I have longed for a stud next to Weddle and Jairus Byrd is this. So if any of the colleagues choose him, I'm all in.

But Im going to stay on the offensive side of the ball and build on the strength. I feel an addition of C Alex Mack is not beneficial for 2014 but for the future. I am not indicating that he should take 61s spot in 2014 or even compete for it. He is versatile and really gets after it. His work ethic is the type of attribute Coach Joe D admires in players and I feel he won't have a problem converting this technical and durable lineman into a solid RG for the next 2 years. Imagine this right side.

Offensive line is always a need. Just look at Denver. By far, the best O-line in football and it's resulted in great seasons for the runningbacks, and the quarterback, which leaks on to the receivers and tight ends. Imagine what Rivers and Mathews could do with a top 5 offensive line...

Andrew Tschiltsch

I'd like to see them make a run at Linval Joseph to boost the interior defensive line. Joseph could be a huge boost to the run defense and likely won't command a gigantic contract. I think the secondary will be addressed through a combination of the draft and hope guys like Addae progress.

The defensive line could also use a boost. They went downhill this year and the loss of Aubrayo Franklin was clearly a factor.

Nick Shepherd

Tim Tebow. Because with Pagano back, the Bolts will need some God on their side when facing the NFC West next year.

I kid, but there's some truth in that ridiculousness. I don't want to see the team break the bank on a man CB like Grimes or Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie because Pags is seemingly content to just stick these guys in zone.
Instead, I'm going BIG on offense. And I have two terrific playmaking options - one is Jeremy Maclin, the speedy slot and YAC guy that Andy Reid seemingly hated for no reason while still in Philadelphia. Think of Maclin like a completely elite Royal - a guy who can get you yards after the catch and also stretch the field deep - except that he runs precise routes and can be much more reliably open.

Barring Maclin, I'd go all in at TE and go with Jimmy Graham. We've all seen the type of success Philip Rivers has with massive, fast, poor blocking TE's that used to play basketball. The possibilities of Green and Graham on the field at the same time are pretty endless - Graham's even more of an early Antonio Gates than people give him credit for, spending most of his time split out wide and only being called a TE because the dudes freaking huge.

Point is, I don't see the defense improving by adding CB's while still using the soft-zone scheme Pagano seems to favor...so let's go be the 99' Rams and score a bajillion points a game. At least it'll be fun to watch, right?

WAT. Nick sometimes has insane ideas. But they're fun. I could see why he would want Graham...Two 1,000 yard tight ends? With Gates and Keenan Allen too? You could run for 6 ypc or throw for 10 ypa all day!

SDnativeinTX

I'll go defense, too, but not in the secondary. I would try to pick BJ Raji from Green Bay's pocket. All of us have noted the need for an upgrade to the NT position from Cam Thomas. Raji gives Pagano a prototypical human fire hydrant in the middle of the line at 6'1" and 340 pounds. He has not produced much in the way of pass rush over the last two seasons, so he should be affordable and with Thomas and/or Lissemore remaining on the roster, that will give the Bolts a credible interior pass rush for 3rd and long situations.

This draft is loaded with CB talent and instead of breaking the bank on an FA, I would like to go with the best CB on the board with the 25th overall pick.

Oh, the ageless wonder gets us with his wisdom. If the draft truly is loaded with CB talent, I hope Telesco drafts at least two...

David Marver

What are you going to call that, Nick? The Greatest Show At The Murph? (editor's note: zzing!!) I'm going to reject both of those guys: Maclin's a speed guy recovering from a significant knee injury while Graham has spent his entire career indoors in Sean Payton's offense. They aren't slam-dunk bets to succeed, let alone succeed at their likely signing price.

I'm going Brian Orakpo. The Chargers have struggled mightily to assemble a pass rush dating all the way back to Shawne Merriman's knee injury. Larry English has proven to be a bust. Shaun Phillips is out of town. Dwight Freeney isn't a long-term solution and there's no guarantee he recovers from his injury. Melvin Ingram looks promising, but has just two career sacks.

Brian Orakpo is a proven commodity. This season, he reached double digit sacks again, which is basically what he's averaged over a full season: 38.5 sacks in four full seasons is roughly 9.5 per. Basically, he's an instant improvement in the pass rush.

He also will probably be cheaper than many other options. In particular, bringing him makes Freeney officially expendable, freeing up $3.5 million in '14 cap space. He could also save us a ton of money by getting us to switch to Geico in just fifteen minutes.

Ha! Pass rush. We're all too familiar with that need.

John Kvandal

I'm gonna have to go Donald Butler here. At this point I'm all in on the Pagano extension (what other choice do I have?) and if continuity is the argument there, you have to go with continuity for the guy with the green dot on his helmet. If Butler had stayed healthy all season, we would be criticizing Tom Telesco for not extending Butler earlier in the season.
But neither of those happened, and Butler's market value has dropped from what it would have been if he wasn't hurt. He still won't be cheap, but he won't break the bank either.

But here's the kicker: do you really want Manti Te'o to the the teams best option at ILB? That's terrifying to me, so I say re-sign Butler.

Te'o? TE'O?? More like Te'NO. (Sorry.) I'd break my TV if I had to watch him get run over and pancaked all game...Though Butler sucked this year. Probably due in part to injury, but let's hope he improves.

Jeffrey Siniard

Since this question is kind of a fantasyland question, I'll give you a fantasyland answer, and that's Greg Hardy. Yes, he'll be mega expensive. But there's not a defender more dominant at his position in 2013 than Greg Hardy was at his. This is important, because you want a player that will produce, regardless of who's calling the shots for the defense (i.e. someone so good that not even Pagano can eff it up).

He's not a 1 year wonder; he's posted 26 sacks over the last 2 seasons. No serious injury history. Since he also begins the season at 26, the odds are good the Chargers will get high level production for the 1st 3-4 seasons of his huge contract, and should get solid production over the back end of the deal if everything works out. He'll command double and some triple teams, freeing up everyone else in the front seven to win 1-on-1 match ups.

I like that idea. Corey Liuget is the only player on the front seven that's capable of winning his 1-on-1 matchups, so having Hardy mixed in with Ingram and Freeney could make the whole defense look better...

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