The time has come for the fans of the San Diego Chargers to decide if Le'Ron McClain should stay or start looking for a new home.
There's a few things to consider when trying to figure out if McClain would fit into Mike McCoy's new offense. First, McCoy used Fullbacks in Denver (Spencer Larsen and Jacob Hester). Ken Whisenhunt also used them in his Arizona system. However, that doesn't mean that Le'Ron can be the type of Fullback that they're looking for.
McCoy, Whisenhunt and new Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris are going to spend the new few years switching the Chargers from a "power blocking" scheme to a "zone blocking" scheme. Power blocking relies mostly on strength and size, guys like Jared Gaither are brought in with the intention of pushing one guy backwards. Zone blocking relies more on assignments and scheme, and the players that fit it best tend to be smaller and faster. Le'Ron McClain is neither small nor fast.
Le'Ron McClain is owed $2.25 million this year by the San Diego Chargers, and his overall cap hit would be $3,083,333 if he were to make the Week 1 roster.
McClain signed a 3-year deal with the team last year for $8.25 million. $2.5 million of that came in the form of a signing bonus, which is pro-rated out for his yearly signing bonus cap hit. In this case, the Chargers take a cap hit of $833,333 each year from that signing bonus. If they were to release him, that cap hit from the signing bonus gets accelerated into the current year's salary cap.
To put it simply, the Chargers take a $3,083,333 cap hit if Le'Ron McClain is on the team in 2013. They take an even higher cap hit next year if he makes the 2014 team as well. If they release him, they take a cap hit of $1,666,666 (ominous, I know) in 2013.
So, $1.6 million for McClain to walk away or $3 mil for McClain to stay on the team?
Here are Le'Ron McClain's grades for the last three seasons, according to Pro Football Focus (Zero should be considered "average" and the higher the number, the better):
- 2010 (Ravens): -3.6 overall / -0.9 rushing / -0.2 receiving / -3.1 pass blocking / 1.0 screen blocking / 0.4 run blocking
- 2011 (Chiefs): -0.8 overall / -0.3 rushing / 1.6 receiving / 2.7 pass blocking / 0 screen blocking / -4.3 run blocking
- 2012 (Chargers): -3.8 overall / -1.2 rushing / 0.4 receiving / 2.0 pass blocking / 0 screen blocking / -6.5 run blocking
This is not a good Fullback. This is a guy who is kind of okay at pass blocking and quite poor at most other things that Fullbacks are supposed to do. Next year he's scheduled to be the 2nd highest paid Fullback in the NFL.