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San Diego Chargers Free Agency: Defensive Line

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The San Diego Chargers defensive line is coming up on the end of their contracts, and it's time for the team to start planning for how they're going to replace them.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Anti-Fan Approach to Free Agency

Free agency in the NFL probably isn't what you think it is.

What it is, in its most basic form, is a tool for negotiation and backup plans. At least, it is when the team is signing young, talented players that are full of potential.

What it is not is an effort to win now. That may be a nice side effect of signing a guy, and it may be the desired effect when you sign a guy that is on the downslope of his career, but the main goal is usually to cover your own ass.

The Corey Liuget Problem

Corey Liuget is not a free agent, but he might as well be.

Through the first four years of his career, his average cap hit for the Chargers has been about $ 2 million. He has one year left on his deal, technically, but the San Diego Chargers have to decide to take it.

If Liuget is on the roster next season, he will cost the team $6,969,000. This season, that would have made him the 20th highest paid defensive lineman in all of the NFL. If Liuget is not on the roster next season, he will cost the team nothing. Nothing in money, nothing against the cap.

The Chargers have until the first league day to decide if they want to keep Liuget on what amounts to a 1-year, $6.9 million dollar contract, or if they want to move on from him.

Even if they do keep Liuget for this season, he'll become a free agent next year along with Philip Rivers, Eric Weddle, Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd, Melvin Ingram, Kendall Reyes, Ladarius Green.....you get the point.

The Chargers need a backup plan. They either need to replace Corey Liuget with a long-term solution this offseason or they need to add someone that can take his place next season just in case he doesn't re-sign.

(To be clear, I am not saying the Chargers should cut Liuget or shouldn't work to sign him next offseason. I am saying they need to create a backup plan in case he decides to go.)

Free Agent Options

I hate just about all of these options, but these are the guys that will be available, are under 30 and could fit a 3-4 scheme:

  • Ndamukong Suh
  • Ahtyba Rubin
  • B.J. Raji
  • Nick Fairley
  • Jared Odrick
  • Terrance Knighton
  • Dan Williams
  • Pat Sims

Suh's price tag is outrageous and he's a bit of an issue for his fines and suspensions. Raji is overrated and coming off a major injury. Nick Fairly would be fun, except he may have benefited from playing next to Suh and his knees are falling apart.

Terrance Knighton has been a hell of a DT in the Denver Broncos' defense, and the Chargers could hurt a foe while adding to their own defensive line. That's probably the best play here, and could turn Kendall Reyes into a backup in 2015 while providing a backup plan for 2016.

What do you think the Chargers should do with their defensive line to plan for a possible future without Sean Lissemore, Kendall Reyes, and (possibly) Corey Liuget? Should they sign one of these guys?