The Chargers have a lot of holes to fix this off-season, and one can only draft so many players per year. Because of that, the Chargers should not shy away from the free agency market this off-season. It is apparent that Tom Telesco isn't a big fan of making a splash in free agency. He made that very clear in his first year at the helm in 2013. With that being said, lets look at some possible players that can land themselves a job here in San Diego. I will try to stay as realistic as possible, because I understand the situation the Chargers are in with cap space.
Speaking of cap space, the Chargers currently have 2.4 million dollars in cap room, which means that even if Telesco wanted to make a big splash in free agency, he couldn't. The Chargers need to be even more careful this year then they were last year. Luckily, with the help of hopefully restructuring some of the veteran player's contracts, it shouldn't be too difficult.
I would've loved to start this list off with Brent Grimes, or Aqib Talib, but I promised I would try to be realistic. Both of those players had an outstanding 2013 campaign, which in turn will result in them being too expensive. As I have said before, I think it is important for the Chargers to not only draft a cornerback, but also pick one up from free agency as well. Walter Thurmond came out of Oregon and was selected in the 4th round in 2010. He is a great option at cornerback because of his age (26), and his inexperience will make his asking price much cheaper. Thurmond has that play-making ability and has a great knack for the ball, something that no corner on the Chargers roster has shown they have. He even has some history with returning kicks from college. That is another way Thurmond would be able to contribute to this football team. But, Thurmond has had some trouble with injuries in the past, and he has even said on record that Seattle is still his number one choice. If the Chargers really want Walter Thurmond, they are going to have to outbid the Seahawks first, which shouldn't be too hard anyways. The Seahawks probably wont spend too much money to keep him because of their depth, and exceptional ability at developing talent.
Yes, I am still aware about me just talking about being realistic. But, B.J. Raji actually has a real shot at landing a job for the Chargers. In fact, the Packers weren't even sure if they were going to have Raji for the 2013 NFL season. Raji will be 28 years old by the start of the 2014 NFL season and the experience under his belt is hard to find for a guy his age. In 2013, Raji was set to make about 4.5 million dollars. If the Chargers really want to pick up Raji from free agency, the deal will have to cost even more than the arrangement made with Derek Cox, prior to the 2013 season. With Sean Lissemore as a backup, the Chargers could have a very productive duo this upcoming season from the nose tackle position. The only thing that does concern me with Raji is that his play has been a bit inconsistent throughout his career. Some years, Raji has looked like a top 5 NT in the league. But at times, Raji has shaped out to be rather pedestrian. Something that cannot be taken away from Raji's play is his run defending. He's one of the better defenders of the run and that's what the Chargers need desperately, as of now. The key to finding success to this signing will be how John Pagano ends up using B.J Raji. In my eyes, Raji has the tangibles to be a perfect fit for San Diego. He is able to take up a lot of space and force double teams, something the Chargers haven't seen from a nose tackle since Jamal Williams.
Tom Telesco has a history of drafting running backs early. Because the Chargers have way more important needs then the running back position, I can see Telesco targeting free agency instead. Ahmad Bradshaw will be 28 years old when the 2014 NFL season will begin. With the New York Giants, Bradshaw proved he can be relied on at the running back position. With the Indianapolis Colts, Bradshaw's career was put on hold with a neck injury that sent him to IR early in the season. Because he only signed a one year deal with the Colts, it is safe to say that Bradshaw will not be resigned. This is where the Chargers come in. They need a guy who can come in occasionally on first and second down when Mathews is dinged up, or resting. Ronnie Brown failed to complete that role in 2013, and that's why I don't see him on the team in 2014. Telesco said he wants to add speed, and while I wouldn't call Bradshaw a "speedy back", I can definitely say he is an upgrade over Brown. Ahmad Bradshaw is the definition of a low risk high reward. The Chargers wont need to spend more than a million dollars in base salary to sign him because of his absence with the neck injury. Take a chance on this guy and let him prove himself again.
At one point in his career, Josh Cribbs was known as the most electrifying return specialist in the NFL. Now, he is just known as another player on a active roster. But, that doesn't mean anything when you are getting a fresh start with a team you have never been on. Just because Cribbs hasn't played like the man we all once knew him as, doesn't mean his career is over. Not many teams will be targeting him in free agency, and because the Chargers are in desperate need of a kick returner this shouldn't be too hard of a decision for Telesco. Trust that Kevin Spencer will get this kid back into his groove, and put him out there to return kicks. Cribbs can even help out the depth in the wide receiver position. At 30 years old, Josh Cribbs still definitely has some juice left in him, so why not give him a shot. This is yet another low risk high reward opportunity waiting to be given another chance.