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Top 25 Free Agents the San Diego Chargers should sign (20-16)

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Kevin Grauel & Kyle Posey look at a list of 25 players that would contribute to the Chargers.

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The list of potential Chargers free agent targets continue with secondary depth, a pass rusher, and that nose tackle that fans have been begging for:

20. Tony Carter, CB, age 29

Why Sign Him?

Have you looked at the Chargers' roster in the past couple of decades and thought "That looks like plenty of depth at cornerback?" Didn't think so. Tony Carter isn't the sexiest name, but he could prove to be a bargain that Tom Telesco is already famous for. His playing time was limited in Denver, but he was stuck behind some excellent players on the depth chart. He is an aggressive player with good ball skills who has experience outside and in the slot. Even if the Chargers bring back Brandon Flowers (and they better), the third CB spot looks pretty concerning. At 29 years old, Carter could give the Chargers secondary a little more stability.

Argument Against Him

I touched on it earlier, but he hasn't seen the field very much. He only managed 87 snaps in 2014 and has struggled with injuries in his career. He may end up being "just a guy", but "just a guy that doesn't commit 13 penalties despite missing multiple games" would an upgrade in San Diego (sorry Shareece).

Contract Value

Because of Tony Carter's limited snaps, we think he will settle for a 2 year, $5.5 million dollar contract to get the chance to show what he can do.

19. Torrey Smith, WR, age 25

Why Sign Him?

Torrey Smith would bring one thing that the Chargers have been missing recently: deep speed. The Bolts have talent in their receiving corps with Malcom Floyd and Keenan Allen, but neither is a burner like Smith. He would have value on deep routes and slants, any way to get the ball in his hands and use his speed.

Argument Against Him

The biggest problem I have with Smith is that he is one-dimensional. He is fast, but a limited route runner. His lack of sharpness and quickness running routes means that most of his value comes as a vertical route runner. That may have been good news in the Norv Turner era, but the Chargers offense now places a bigger emphasis on route combinations and the ability to actually run multiple routes cleanly and effectively. Smith's abilities do not fit the offense all that well.

Contract Value

Smith is still pretty young (26 in 2015) and has proven to be a productive receiver. Because of this, his contract could be somewhere around 5 years and $33 million ($6.6 million per year). Probably more than I would want to spend on a limited receiver, but still a talented player that would help the team.

18. Jerry Hughes, OLB, age 27

Why Sign Him?

Pass rush, pass rush, and more pass rush. The Chargers' pass rush was okay in the beginning of 2014. However, as Dwight Freeney wore down, the team's overall ability to get to the quarterback did as well. Freeney is a free agent and will be 35 by the time next season starts, so the Bolts have to be prepared to be without him. Hughes collected 61 combined QB sacks, hits, and hurries last season on 492 rushes. To put that in perspective; Jerry Attaochu, Melvin Ingram, and Jarret Johnson combined to rush the passer 473 times and collected a combined 46 pressures (all according to Pro Football Focus). This is his second consecutive season of excellent production, and he has played the run almost as well. After a slow start to his career, Jerry Hughes has been one of the better edge defenders in the league the past 2 years.

Argument Against Him

For one, he won't be cheap. How much will the Chargers be willing to invest on an OLB when they have Jarret Johnson and two talented, young players behind him? Hughes will only be 27 by the time next season starts and edge rushers in their prime are about as expensive as they come after quarterbacks. He has also had a problem with penalties after being called for 13 in 2014 with another 4 declined or nullified. Also, when I scream "Get the quarterback, Jerry!" he and Attaochu may be confused over who I am talking to.

Contract Value

We estimate a 5 year, $42.5 million dollar deal for Hughes. $8.5 million a year could even be on the lighter side of a relatively young pass rusher coming off two very good seasons.

17. Damon Harrison, NT, age 27

Why Sign Him?

For all of the Chargers fans insisting that the team finds a true 3-4 nose tackle, here you go. Harrison has thrived for the Jets as a run-stuffing big man in the middle. He would join the defense quite possibly already as their best run defender. I don't even want to mention a certain nose tackle that played in San Diego a few years back, but Harrison would be the best run-stuffer since his departure.

Argument Against Him

As Kyle pointed out in the previous column, the Chargers defensive line rotation worked last year. Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, you don't need Jamal Williams like body in the middle to be strong against the run. Guys like Harrison offer little pass rush, so the Chargers would be paying big bucks to a player who would probably see about 30-40% of the team's snaps on defense. It's not a talent/ability problem as much as it is a supply/demand problem.

Contract Value

Harrison is still relatively young (26) and has had multiple highly productive seasons. We predict a 5 year $32 million dollar contract from a team looking to quickly fix it's run defense.

16. Mark Ingram, RB, age 25

Why Sign Him

The Chargers struggled to run the ball without Ryan Mathews, their only power running back. Ingram has shown that he can bring what the Chargers need as he is a very talented runner. Ingram set a career high with 964 rushing yards and would be a cheap way to bring power back to the Chargers' ground game. He has more potential than the remaining running backs on the roster to be a workhorse.

Argument Against Him

The fact that 964 yards is his career high is pretty telling of how his career has gone. He was lost in the depth chart early in his career and has struggled to stay healthy for the rest of it. If signed and he could give the Bolts over 200 carries like he did in 2014 in New Orleans, that would be a victory. However, given his history that may be asking too much.

Contract Value

Ingram will probably look to sign a "prove it" contract, given that he is only 25 and still has a shot at one good contract. 1 year and about $3 million dollars could make him a Charger.