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Bolts From The Blue Roundtable: Week One of Free Agency

OAKLAND, CA :  Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers yells out instructions at the line of scrimmage during their game against the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA : Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers yells out instructions at the line of scrimmage during their game against the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Hello esteemed colleagues (and John). Today I'd like to get your opinions on the Chargers' first week of free agency. Keep it snappy, gentlemen.

Wonko: Happy with the acquisitions. There's a lot more depth on this team now, which should allow the coaches to rotate players, keep them fresh and play them mainly in positions where they are primed to succeed. The addition of Jarret Johnson is a significant upgrade and that gets lost in the shuffle if too much focus is placed on not going hard after Mario Williams. Robert Meachem is a much better alternative than I would have expected had you told me Jackson would leave. I'm okay with letting certain players walk if it helped give the team the maneuverability to build a more complete team. However, there's cap space left I believe and I'm curious how that gets used.

Creanium: Overall, I'm pleased by the signings. I think the team got a lot more value out of the $13 million Jackson would have commanded. I like the Meachem and Royal signings as it gives the passing offense a bit of a different attack style than just having Rivers heave the ball up in the air and expect Jackson to haul it in. We still have that option with M80 (assuming he doesn't shatter this season), but I like that with Meachem and Royal there's more speed involved as well.

Royal being 3rd on the list in YAC intrigues me because with Vincent - and even Malcom - it seemed like they would jump up, catch the ball, then fall down and that's it. That's great on a 40-yard pass, but it'll be nice to see the ball actually continue moving down the field after its caught. This all assumes Royal is a better receiver than he's shown recently. But if nothing else, he should be a definite upgrade in the return game.

I'm extremely happy that Gaither and Hardwick were both re-signed. Rebuilding the entire left side of the OL scared the crap out of me. I'm ... intrigued ... by the team's need to carry 5 TEs so far. Should we sign a 6th just to make it an even number? I was down on the McClain signing at first, but I'm actually cautiously optimistic about having a true fullback on the team and seeing if he can open up some lanes for Mathews. SMASHMOUF IS BACK! LONEAL!

I'm excited about Jarret Johnson, I think it was a fantastic signing. Not just for when he's on the field, but also that it means Barnes can get more rest and stay fresh. Atari Bigby, don't know enough to form an opinion. But between Bigby and Johnson, it appears AJ/Norv/Pagano really wanted to shore up the run defense right away. Can't say I blame them. I would like to see Garay and Castillo re-signed. And an RB2 signed. Aside from that, I think anything else can be addressed in the draft.

Thanks for that essay, Crean.

Superduper Boltman: For what was available, I'm quite happy. Yes, Mario Williams blah blah blah, but the money he was looking for was ridiculous and would hurt the rest of the team so I wasn't worried. I never realistically expected him to land in San Diego.

Robert Meachem was an excellent aquisition, his ridiculous speed will more than make up for the size difference with Vincent Jackson. Floyd is still here, and that means a lot. Eddie Royal may not do too much on offense, but having 2 speed receivers doesn't hurt when you consider how difficult it is to slow down New Orleans.

Jarret Johnson was a great pick up, even though he's not a pass rusher. His versatility is amazing, like that of Shaun Phillips, and having two players like that on the field at once opens up so much strategy which I'll get into when my scouting report on him is released. He'll help make this team one of the better run-stopping units. Atari Bigby isn't spectacular. He was up and down with Green Bay and decent with Seattle, but I don't know if he's the best fit for the team at SS.

Free Agency has gone better than I expected, though there is still a need for a pure pass rusher and a backup RB, along with a Guard and Strong Safety. Nickelback is also a question mark, but not as bad as it looks. LeRon McClain was a good signing, and maybe the run game improves and opens up even more for Rivers, which would be scary for any defense...

Okay, so I guess everyone that isn't Wonko is going to hit me with an essay. Next up?

Orz: So far, the team has signed 9 offensive players (1 QB, 2 WR, 2 OL, 1RB, 3 TE) and 3 defensive players (2 LB, 1 DB). It appears the strategy is to get savvy vets for offense and hit the draft for hard hitting young bucks on defense. I think this makes a lot of sense.

As others have already pointed out, the amount of quality players they crammed into VJ's vacated cap space is a picture perfect vignette of AJ's disciplined spending style. In the past, this roster has been built on a few high paid all-pros and a lot of minimum or veteran minimum filler, whereas this year it looks like there will be more salaries in the middle. I think a number of these free agents are not safe to make the team, and once the draft is complete, there will be a lot more camp battles than we are used to (TE, LB, RB2, DB).

Or not. Thanks for keeping it pithy, Orz. And that just leaves the mad rambling of our fearless leader.

John Gennaro:This is late and probably won't be included in the post, but whatever:

I am a bit confused by all of the signings. Norv and AJ seem to have the philosophy that Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Ryan Mathews and a healthy offensive line will carry the offense. That's fine, I agree with them. Put stars on the team and it frees up mediocre players to play above their head. However, on defense the philosophy seems to be the opposite of that. Instead of building around stars on defense, AJ seems content with trying to cover the field with lots of "solid" players that won't require any extra focus or attention from opposing offenses. Yes, I might still be bitter about the Mario Williams thing. I don't see how the pass-rush improved at all.

I don't see why people are talking about Atari Bigby like he's going to be playing defense. If he's going to be playing defense, blood will start pouring out of my mouth. From now on, I'm going to refer to Bigby as "Clinton Hart". Oh, and shut up. Before you start with "Hart was good!", remember that Hart was good when Shawne Merriman was putting the fear of God in opposing QBs and was revealed to be awful when QBs weren't throwing ducks his way.

Love the Royal signing. He's like the black Bryan Walters! Love the Meachem signing. Truly. He'll be a star here until Gates is done. Dante Rosario Dawson has wonderful boobs and is a great redzone receiving target. I think I've heard that his blocking is subpar, but I guess that's why McMichael was brought back? It seems the Chargers are going with lots of TEs to help with the red zone offense.

Love Jarret Johnson as a player and a leader and all that. Don't know that he takes any pressure off of Shaun Phillips at all. Love Le'Ron McClain as a player and a leader and all that. Don't know that he takes any pressure off of Ryan Mathews at all. Gaither and Hardwick were going to come back. The team would've been panicking if they didn't know that. Still, seems like a couple of solid moves. Final Grade: C+


Revised Grade: A+ <3 XOXOXOXO