With most of the major unrestricted free agent signings in the books, it may be a good time to look at some of the restricted free agents on the market to see if the Bolts might can find good value for minimal draft picks. Due to the rule changes for free agency in this uncapped year the restricted free agent market has become flooded with talented players leaving the unrestricted free agent market a bit bare. Below the jump I'll take a look at some of the restricted free agents that the Chargers may have a possible interest in and what they would have to give up to get them.
The Chargers have an obvious need at running back. There are currently only 2 backs on their roster (Sproles and Mason) neither of which is a lock to be on the roster come September. Below is a list of the top restricted free agent running backs and the tender they were offered from their respective teams:
Ronnie Brown - First round Tender
Pierre Thomas - Second Round Tender
Carnell Williams - Second Round Tender
LenDale White - Second Round Tender
Jerome Harrison - Second Round Tender
Jason Snelling - Second Round Tender
Jerious Norwood - Second Round Tender
In my opinion Brown is clearly the best back on the list, he would be a great fit in Norv's system (Brown has averaged over 30 catches a year and 8.2 Yds/Catch) and is a bigger back (6'/230) who can run the ball between the tackles. Brown is only two seasons away from hitting the dreaded 30 year old running back wall and has already had a slew of injuries (Brown has only started 16 games one time in his career), I'm also guessing his recentDUI arrest would not go over too well with AJ (who seems to be cleaning house this year). With Brown's age, health and recent off the field issues I just can't see the Chargers giving up the 28th overall pick in the draft to be able to sign him to a long term deal.
While it was somewhat reasonable to think that the Chargers may be willing to give up their 2nd round pick (#60 overall) to sign a veteran running back like Pierre Thomas or even Carnell Williams before the Whitehurst trade, now that they have swapped picks with Seattle and moved up to the #40 overall pick in the draft it seems rather unfeasible at this point. The Bolts may be able to make a deal with the Titans for LenDale White for a lower pick (White has publically requested a trade this off season) but with no real incentive to trade White other than his negative attitude it may be hard to get a deal done.
Blocking Tight Ends
Matt Spaeth - Third Round Tender
Spaeth is a big bodied TE (6'7 270 lbs) who uses his size to be a dominate run blocker. Spaeth can also sneak off the line and use his height to become a big target in the redzone. Giving up a third round pick (#91 overall) may seem like a lot for a blocking tight end but the Bolts did trade their 4th round pick (#113 overall) to get Manumaleuna in 2005 so it might not be as much of a stretch as one would think.
Gabe Watson - Second Round Tender
Watson is a big (6'4 230 lbs) nose tackle who can play in the 3-4. Watson is still young (26) and has the tools and the size to develop into a dominate 3-4 NT but he still has some kinks in his game that need to be worked out. Watson tends to let blockers get inside on him and sometimes has a hard time understanding and recognizing blocking schemes. If the Chargers were still picking at #60 overall in the 2nd round it may have been worth taking a look at Watson if they felt that all the 3-4 NT would be off the board when it was their turn to pick, but now that they have moved up to #40 overall the move makes much less sense.
Kirk Morrison - Third Round Tender
With Cooper, Dobbins and Burnett all becoming free agents at the end of next season, it may be a good idea for the Bolts to bring in Morrison for the low, low price of a third round draft pick. Morrison is an underrated steady tackler (has had over 115 tackles every season he has been in the NFL), who can drop back into pass coverage. Morrison is also a great team leader which has become a major team need on the defensive side of the ball.