While teams like the Buccaneers, Broncos, and Browns were endlessly pouring their money out to available free agents, the Chargers were patiently negotiating cheap and short contracts with a select few, who will for the most part be providing depth. But what type of performances should Chargers' fans expect from these new players in 2014?
Donald Brown, RB
One the first day of free agency, the Chargers acquired RB Donald Brown, formerly known as the first round pick for the Indianapolis Colts in 2009. Let me just say that this is a brilliant pick up. Tom Telesco has proven that he really likes to sign his former players from when he was with the Colts, so we know where the connection came from. But to some Charger fans, they didn't understand this move. They did not understand that it is very important to have depth at the runningback position, especially when a guy like Ryan Mathews is your starter. Brown provides insurance for Mathews, and can carry the load of rushing the ball multiple times in a game when Mathews is injured. But that's not all, Donald Brown is also very knowledgeable in pass protection. Let's not forget about what happened last year versus the Broncos in the playoffs. Brown was probably the most well balanced runningback that was available in free agency, and luckily, the Chargers got their hands on him first.
David Johnson, TE/FB
As for David Johnson, when I first heard that the Chargers picked him up, I didn't know what to think. Johnson was a tight end for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and also had a lot of experience at the fullback position. So already it's apparent that Johnson will probably have a similar role to what John Phillips and Le'Ron McClain had last year. He'll be doing all the dirty work, and you'll probably see him the most in goal line situations. Like many, I didn't know much of anything about David Johnson when the signing first happened. So how does Pro Football Focus have him graded?
Out of the five games that Johnson was graded on, he looks to be a pretty solid role player. The biggest game that pops out to me is the fourth game of the season, where Johnson faced the Minnesota Vikings. He had a +3.7 overall grade for that game, and also a +3.0 grade in run blocking, respectively. So, at least we know something is there. I just hope David Johnson doesn't take any playing time away from Ladarius Green, like John Phillips did.
Kavell Conner, ILB
As the first defensive free agent to be signed by the Chargers, Kavell Conner is a great role player that has experience and intelligence. Last season, Conner only played 10 games, and only had 21 combined tackles. But in 2011, he played all 16 games with 104 combined tackles. Conner is much better in run defense than in pass coverage, which is just what the Chargers need help in. Obviously, Conner has started a lot of games before so this is also just another guy to help Manti Te'o develop. But both Te'o and Donald Butler missed at least 4 games last year, so it's much more important to get a viable backup at ILB then you may initially have thought. There is a good chance Conner is going to become more than just a depth signing by the end of the 2014 season, and I'm fine with that because he has proven he can be successful in the NFL.
Kellen Clemens, QB
Although a lot of fans don't understand this signing, I can see where Telesco is coming from here. The Chargers just lost Charlie Whitehurst to the Titans, and they don't believe Brad Sorenson is ready to be the number 2 guy just yet. In comes Kellen Clemens. With Clemens, you know what you're working with. You know what his strengths and his weaknesses are because he has starting experience. Clemens is a veteran, and should even be able to help Phillip Rivers out as an extra pair of eyes from the sideline. Knowing Rivers and his toughness, there is a very good chance Kellen Clemens won't see the field this year, but you can never be too safe.
Brandon Ghee, CB
As a third round pick in the 2010 NFL draft, Brandon Ghee has a ton of talent. He has been targeted 9 times in his career, and only allowed 2 of those passes to be caught. Ghee also has 4 passes defended in his career. The reason his numbers are so low is because he's never on the field. Ghee has been plagued with injuries for the last 3 seasons, resulting in seeing very little time. For now, this signing is probably just to provide some competition in Training Camp. But if the Chargers get lucky with his health problems, Brandon Ghee could fill in nicely as a dependable back-up.