Free Agency Recap
(Important) Players Lost
- WR Vincent Jackson
- OT Marcus McNeill
- FB/RB Mike Tolbert
- SS Steve Gregory
- WR Patrick Crayton
- QB Billy Volek
- OLB Travis LaBoy
I left off all the guys that didn't play major roles in 2012, because many of them are still free agents and could end up back on the team in a training camp battle of sorts. Still, losing 5 guys would hurt if it weren't so obvious who the replacements were. From this point forward, I'll list each new player with he player they're replacing next to them.
- QB Charlie Whitehurst (Billy Volek)
- FB/RB Le'Ron McClain (Mike Tolbert)
- FB/RB Jacob Hester (Jacob Hester)
- WR Robert Meachem (Vincent Jackson)
- WR Eddie Royal (Patrick Crayton)
- WR Roscoe Parrish (Bryan Walters)
- WR Michael Spurlock
- TE Dante Rosario
- TE Kory Sperry (Kory Sperry)
- OT Jared Gaither (Marcus McNeill)
- OT Mario Henderson (Brandyn Dombrowski, who moved to G)
- C Nick Hardwick (Nick Hardwick)
- NT Antonio Garay (Antonio Garay)
- DE Luis Castillo (Luis Castillo)
- ILB Demorrio Williams (Na'il Diggs)
- OLB Jarret Johnson (Travis LaBoy)
- SS Atari Bigby (Steve Gregory)
That's a lot of signings. It's possible that I even missed a couple. The main point is that the Chargers filled all the major holes that they had through free agency and added some veteran leadership. They essentially went into the draft with a team equal to what they had in 2011. Anything they added would be an improvement.
- OLB Melvin Ingram
- DE Kendall Reyes
- SS Brandon Taylor
- TE Ladarius Green
- G Johnnie Troutman
- C David Molk
- RB Edwin Baker
Here's your gravy. A pass-rusher with the potential to be dominant. Defensive line depth. A potential play-making Safety. A TE with great hands to help with goal-line passing situations. Depth at Center. Depth at Running Back.
The thing that killed the 2011 Chargers wasn't a lack of talent, necessarily. It was Philip Rivers going through a "tough stretch", although he was probably injured. It was the offensive line falling to pieces. It was Mike Tolbert's fumbles, a lack of a pass-rush and an incompetent Defensive Coordinator.
A.J. Smith very obviously went into this offseason with a good plan and executed it to perfection. He patched the holes, improved the team through free agency, and then added toys to the cabinet of Norv and Pagano through the draft. You really can't ask for anything better than that.