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Top 25 Free Agents the San Diego Chargers should sign (10-6)

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The top 10 countdown for the potential Free Agent targets for the Chargers has begun. Who should they sign?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 Chargers defense played better as the season went on, but there is no doubt that they could use a boost in talent. This is the first offseason that Tom Telesco will have to not only fill holes, but add depth to ensure the Bolts down go into a downward spiral like they did after their 5-1 start once many players went down with an injury.

10. Will Hill, FS, age 25, Ravens

Why Sign Him?

To put it simply, Hill is an all-around excellent safety. He is strong in both coverage and run defense. His versatility paired with Eric Weddle's versatility would allow for John Pagano to use both of them as interchangeable free/strong safeties. He is also young, as he will only be 25 during the 2015 season. He would be an upgrade over Marcus Gilchrist and Jahleel Addae and at an affordable rate.

Argument Against Him

As mentioned above, Will Hill would probably be affordable. The reason for that is because he served a 6-game suspension for substance abuse to begin the 2014 season, so any team that signs him will risk losing him for more games than that. The Chargers would be Hill's third team, which means as good as he is two teams were willing to let him walk.

Contract Value

Hill will probably get a short-term deal from a team while he tries to prove he can stay out of trouble through 2015. As talented as he is, a 1 year, $5 million dollar deal could make him a Charger.

9. Orlando Franklin, OL, age 28, Broncos

Why Sign Him?

The word "versatility" is one of the more over-used terms in the NFL (yes, I know I used it earlier). Jeromey Clary, for example, was praised for his versatility because he played both RG and RT for the Chargers in 2013. The problem there is that Clary didn't play either position particularly well. You can't just call a player versatile because the coaches stick him in a different position. Franklin on the other hand, was an above-average tackle for the Broncos before he was converted to guard in 2014. He also played that position well. The Chargers have a need for a starting guard and a tackle, and Franklin could step right into either. He could also provide depth for whichever position he is not starting. Also, did anyone see the Chargers offensive line last year? Orlando Franklin would provide some much-needed stability for a unit that could not protect the QB or provide running lanes for the running backs.

Argument Against Him

There is always the fear that the "pretty good" free agent who is expected to come in and play a prominent role becomes a not-so-good player (Derek Cox, Donald Brown) when switching teams/schemes. Franklin also played with Peyton Manning, one of the best of all time at getting the ball out of his hands quick and making his offensive line look better. The Chargers will have to determine how much playing in the Broncos' offense elevated his game.

Contract Value

We estimate a 4 year, $23 million dollar deal for Franklin ($5.75 million per year).

8. Kareem Jackson, CB, age 27, Texans

Why Sign Him

Kareem Jackson could be one of two things for the Chargers:

1.      A replacement for Brandon Flowers

2.      The third cornerback (with Flowers) on one of the best secondary backfields in the league.

Jackson has had an inconsistent career until he put together his best season in 2014. He has experience playing corner on both sides as well as the slot. Cornerback depth can never be overlooked, especially when you are hit by injuries as hard as the Chargers were. They played chunks of snaps with Chris Davis and Richard Marshall as their top 2 corners. The Chargers need to secure talent in the secondary, especially if they can't keep Brandon Flowers.

Argument Against Him

Players who have breakout seasons in a contract year always present a tricky situation when it comes to free agency. Do teams pay for last year's production or factor in everything before that? Usually, a team is willing to roll the dice and favor the expensive side in hopes of getting an elite player. Because of that, Jackson will probably be expensive for a player with one productive season. He has also battled minor injuries throughout his career, which makes him a bit less valuable.

Contract Value

Jackson is still young at age 27 and his best football could be in the future. We predict a 5 year $38 million dollar contract ($7.6 million per year).

7. Brandon Graham, OLB, age 27, Eagles

Why Sign Him?

Another potential target for the "Coupon God" Tom Telesco is Brandon Graham. Graham suffered a torn ACL in his rookie season which complicated the first two years of his career. Since then, he has been a sparingly used but effective edge rusher. He saw just over 300 snaps in 2014, mainly as a rotational player. Looking back, there doesn't seem to be a reason why he wasn't on the field more. He was effective as a pass rusher as well as a run defender on the edge. He does have the injury from 2010, but he has seen such a limited snap count in his career that there are not many miles on his body. He could see a big increase in snaps in San Diego while still allowing the ability to rotate with the younger linebackers Jerry Attaochu and Melvin Ingram. Like cornerback, OLB saw a lot of injuries last year. Graham is a very talented player who would give the Chargers depth and improve the pass rush.

Argument Against Him

Graham's low snap count could also be seen as a negative. Who knows if he would hold up with an increased workload? Also, many believe that his talents are better suited for a base 4-3 defense (although the Chargers use plenty of 4 defensive lineman fronts), so it may cost a few more dollars to keep him in the 3-4.

Contract Value

Graham is a bit hard to project given his level of productivity but small workload. Something like 2 years, $11 million ($5.5 million per year) is what we predict.

6. Tashaun Gipson, FS, age 25, Browns

Why Sign Him?

To put it simply, Gipson is on his way to becoming a star. He played free safety in the Browns' defense in 2014, and boasted the 6th highest coverage grade among all safeties according to Pro Football Focus. His range as a safety would give the Chargers the best coverage combo at safety. It would allow plenty of creativity with Eric Weddle, as well as potential blitz packages. At age 25 by the start of next season, Gipson would be a fantastic Charger for years to come.

Argument Against Him

For one, Gipson missed the last handful of weeks last season with a knee injury. The biggest obstacle will be the price. Not only would the Bolts have to pay a premium price for a top young safety, but since he is a restricted free agent they will likely have to surrender a draft pick. If the pick is not too high, the Chargers should inquire on how much it will cost to bring him to San Diego.

Contract Value

If a team signs Gipson away from the Browns, we estimate it will be for about 4 years and $30 million ($7.5 million per year).

The top 10 countdown for the potential Free Agent targets for the Chargers has begun