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The San Diego Chargers and NFL Free Agency

Oh, shut up Gehlken (and Acee). Your boogey-man routine doesn't scare me one bit.

I tried to get a Twitter Mailbag going today, but grew impatient at the lack of questions. Plus, the question I was fishing for was asked so I was already done. Here it is:

EXACTLY. The San Diego Chargers have historically spent right up to the salary cap and have stated that they'll do the same this offseason. Heck, with it possibly being the last chance to A.J. Smith to keep his job, there's no reason not to spend every last dime that he can to try and get this team into the playoffs. If they don't get any marquee free agents, where is that money going?

There are really only two options. Both of them appease different levels of Chargers fans. One of them would make me put my fist through a wall. We'll examine both after the jump.

Option A, aka The "Let's Use Acee and Gehlken to Fool Everyone" Plan

Tell me the benefit of the Chargers coming out and telling the world "We intend on offering Mario Williams whatever he wants." Go ahead. I'll wait. No? Yeah, that's because there is none. All that would do is make some AFC contender (Patriots, Broncos, etc.) get into a bidding war with the Chargers for him just to screw with San Diego's cap. By being a more secretive shopper, the Chargers can avoid some of those bidding wars.

Players Signed: Jared Gaither, Nick Hardwick, Jacob Hester, Mike Tolbert, Mario Williams, Antonio Garay

There is almost certainly enough cap room to sign each of those guys and have room left over for draft picks. If there isn't, they could let Tolbert walk and replace him with one of the many veteran free-agent RBs that are out there.

In this scenario, the first two draft picks would probably be a WR (to replace Vincent Jackson) and an Offensive Lineman (to compete with Tyronne Green and add depth).

If this team didn't make it to the playoffs, Norv Turner should be forced into immediate and early retirement. The offense would be fine with Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates and whatever group of WRs are out there (similar to the 2010 team). The defense would be greatly improved with Williams, which would help the offense and special teams. It would be the best team in the AFC West, without question.

Option B, aka The "Nothing Was Wrong Except For The Losses" Plan

This is what Michael Gehlken and Kevin Acee were hinting at in their article posted yesterday evening. It's the "Let's sign everyone back that we can afford" plan, but it still leaves a ton of cap room. Unless......

Players Signed: Jared Gaither, Nick Hardwick, Jacob Hester, Mike Tolbert, Antonio Garay, Vincent Jackson

Oh, man. Vincent Jackson signs with the Chargers! All of their problems are solved now that they have one of the best WRs in the league and such a dominating playmaker on offense! There's no way that the Chargers miss the playoffs now!

In this scenario, the Chargers would probably use their first two draft picks on an OLB and either an Offensive Lineman or Tight End.


Seriously, though, these are the only two realistic options. A.J. Smith may be stubborn, but he's not stupid. Him leaving $10 million or more in open cap space this season would be like Philip Rivers forfeiting the game because the Chargers are down by 7 points heading into the 4th quarter.

So either we'll go into the season with the exact same team as last year plus some rookies, or the big splash (hopefully Mario Williams) is coming and afterwards Acee can do that trademark chuckle while he says "A.J. got me again." Then he'll sit the young Gehlken down and tell him stories of yore regarding the Chargers GM and his unpredictable ways.

Twitter Answers

I forgot that I promised to answer all of the questions asked of me on Twitter. Here are your answers:

  • I don't know, ask Wonko.
  • Mario Williams.
  • Shut up.
  • See the article above.
  • 50/50.
  • Depends on how the market pans out, see the article above.
  • No way the Patriots let him go.
  • I think so.