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Top 25 Free Agents the San Diego Chargers should sign (5-1)

The top 10 countdown for the Potential Free Agent Targets for the Chargers concludes. Who should they sign?

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

We are at the point of the free agency list where if the Chargers were to sign anyone of these players, then free agency is a success. Because of this story on a defensive tackle from Detroit, we've switched our top player on this list. Any of these players should be considered home run signings.

5) Rodney Hudson, Center, age 26, Chiefs

Why Sign Him

With the not so surprising news that Nick Hardwick retired, Hudson is on his way to being one of the best centers in the league. Chiefs beat report B.J. Kissel had a good write up that had glowing reviews and highlights you can read here. I don't have to tell you how important playing every snap is at the  center position. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2013, Hudson hasn't missed a snap. You also saw big improvements in Hudson's game from 2013 to 2014. With more reps, he became more comfortable and did a good job of keeping the quarterback clean. He gave up 2 sacks in 2014 and both in 1 game versus the Bills. San Diego asks a lot from their center. 2 big areas are handling double A-gap blitzes and sealing linebackers off at the 2nd level, often as moving targets. Hudson can handle both. I believe that the Chargers blocking scheme would be a perfect fit for Hudson's strengths and he could hide any issues from whoever is starting next to him. You also take away a very good player from a division rival.

Argument Against Him

What if he doesn't continue getting better? What if we've seen the best of him after 2 years, you give him a big contract, and he ends up being "just a guy." Speaking of contract, he'll demand a large one, even if he's at center. Do you want to spend big on a center or continue to plug in cheap options at the position.

Contract Value: 5 years, $31 million

Here's a look at some contracts of centers around the league. The Seahawks center Max Unger makes $5.6 million annually. I would guess Hudson will be signed between that and 6.6 million per year. We have Hudson making around $6.2 million per year, and sweetening the pot with more than half guaranteed considering his lack of injury history and early success.

4) Pernell McPhee, Edge Rusher, 26, Ravens

Why Sign Him

Jarret Johnson is a potential cap casualty. Dwight Freeney is a free agent. Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu are inconsistent and didn't stay on the field this past year. The Chargers need an edge presence that will take some heat of Corey Liuget. McPhee is that guy. McPhee is a player that can be productive as an edge rusher and can also kick inside and win with quickness against guards. Think Antwaan Barnes, but more versatile and a better football player. McPhee played 48% of the snaps this year and had 8 sacks and 24 QB hits. That's incredible. When you watch him play, nothing about his game leaves you feeling he's a one-year wonder. He's battled injuries the last few seasons but even as a rookie he registered 6 sacks. The talent is there. I'd be interested to see if McPhee can develop into an every down strongside linebacker given his frame, 6'3, 280 pounds. Then kick him inside with a pass rush that features Attaochu-McPhee-Liuget-Ingram. That gives the Chargers a potent pass rush for the next 4-5 years. I was incredibly impressed with McPhee and think that he could help the team in a big way.

Argument Against Him

Do you give big money to a guy that wasn't an every down player? Was McPhee a product of playing around some of the more talented defensive players in the league? There's no doubt he was. Teams weren't scheming for McPhee. With a big contract, you won't be a secret anymore. We also know the history of Ozzie Newsome. If he lets you go, you're not worth keeping. He's rarely wrong in these situations.

Contract Value: 4 years, $35.5 million

McPhee is going to get paid and deservedly so. Former teammate Paul Kruger got 40 million over 5 years. I believe McPhee will get a little less, at around $7.1 million per year because he wasn't an every down player. That number reflects his age, talent and the fact that he plays a premier position.

3) Bryan Bulaga, OT, 25, Packers

Why Sign Him

When the Chargers ran right last year, whether behind the right tackle or right end, they were 25th and 30th in adjusted line yards. The Packers were 5th and 13th. I don't know if "mauler" is the proper term but he gets the job done and is technically sound so we won't see guys crossing his face and making plays in the backfield or him lunging and taking himself out of position. I think his real value comes in the passing game, and it's why he deserves a big contract. Bulaga was a big reason for Aaron Rodgers having plenty of time to throw. I mentioned him being technically sound. He understands how to get depth in his pass set to cut off speed rushers without over setting, which is an issue a lot of right tackles have. He would be the best pass protecting right tackle for the team since I can remember. Not to mention he's 25, so the fact he's played at such a high level and we're not even in his prime is very encouraging.

Argument Against Him

Bulaga missed all 2013 with a torn ACL. That's tough to get around. Then we get into value. It's a general manager's job to properly to know exactly where the value is in free agency and in the draft. This year's draft class is loaded at the tackle position. Do you cough up a giant contract to a guy one year removed from an ACL injury that was perhaps hidden because he played with Rodgers?

Contract Value 5 years, $38 million

Right tackles are valued a little less than left tackles by the NFL, but there's no reason to think Bulaga won't be the highest paid right tackle in the NFL. This contract would give him $7.6 million per year, a little over a half million more than the next highest paid tackle.

2) Randall Cobb, WR, 25, Packers

Why Sign Him

I don't think I need to explain this one to you. But I do think it's important to understand some of the offensive struggles. The Chargers had the 10th most 3 and outs per drive in the league. That can't happen again. This isn't just an issue of "Rivers not having time." When the team needed receivers to get open late in the season against AFC foes, they couldn't.  I'll just throw a couple stats out there. Cobb had the 3rd most receptions in the league on 3rd down. Cobb had 91 receptions in the regular season and 71 went for 1st downs. Seventy. One. He's a guy that seems like he's always open or always in the end zone. The fact that 78% of his catches were 1st downs all but confirms that. Cobb is the weapon, the true chess piece that's a mismatch, that the Chargers offense is missing. He's a reliable target, as he caught 72% of his passes this year. Cobb would bring back the 2013 levels of efficiency on offense for the Chargers.

Argument Against Him

If you think Cobb will cost too much, I can buy that idea. Signing 1, maybe 2 big players might not be as impactful as addressing several needs that the team has. The team needs to add depth. I can also buy an argument that he's not worth a big contract given his injury history. Here's a list of Cobb's injuries.

Contract Value: 4 years, $37.6 million

Cobb is going to get paid more than fellow slot standout Victor Cruz and his 5 year $43 million he received last year. He should, he's a better player and is 3 years younger. Cobb would be smart to sign a 3-4 year deal so he could set himself up for another mega contract. Maybe this is on the cheap side factoring in injuries, but we're guessing Cobb will make around $9.4 million annually.

1) Justin Houston, Edge Rusher, 26, Chiefs

Why Sign Him

Simple, he's a top 5 defensive player in the league. He's a guy that you have to gameplan for. He's a building block. The Chargers were one of the worst pass rushing teams in the league. They finished 27th in adjusted sack rate with 26 sacks on the season. Justin Houston had 23 sacks by himself to go along with 8 QB hits. Sacks aren't the end all be all by we've almost gotten to the point of dismissing them. Sacks matter, they're drive stoppers. If the Chiefs choose to franchise tag Houston, he's worth the 1st round pick.  You won't  find a guy who can have a bigger impact not only for himself but for the rest of your defense is.

Argument Against Him

Signing a marquee player like Houston limits your ability to plug other holes. If you sign Houston, you're likely only signing 1 or 2 players to smaller contracts.

Contract Value: 5 years, $76.6 Million

If you want to sign the best, you're going to have to pay premium dollars. Houston deserves a top 5 contract and he'll likely receive that. I expect him to receive a little over $15 million per year.